Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberries

There was a short article in Bon Appétit last summer by the BA Foodist entitled “Why I Hate Brunch.” He argues that brunch foods are easy and cheap to prepare so it is foolish to pay for overpriced and “mediocre” preparations at restaurants. As someone who LOVES to go out for brunch, I was initially offended. However the article got me thinking, and after a recent spell of disappointing brunches I’m starting to see his point. I will not take the bold step of using strong words like “hate” because I think that regardless of the cost or quality of the food, going to brunch with friends is the best way to nurse a hangover and relive the events of the previous night.

But I have decided to slightly amend my brunch guidelines: I will no longer order pancakes at a restaurant unless they have a reputation for being amazing. And that reputation must be built on reliable sources. I have a weakness for chocolate chip pancakes, and if they are on the menu, I almost always order them. But at brunch a few weekends ago at a restaurant in Coolidge Corner, they didn’t even bother to put the chocolate chips inside my chocolate chip pancakes! They were smeared on top, making a gooey and unattractive mess. I could overlook that laziness if the pancakes had been exceptional, but they were boring and kind of rubbery. Contrasting this experience with the Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes that I made last weekend made me realize that restaurants do not hold the same respect for pancakes that I do and I should stop expecting them to produce acceptable results. When I am craving pancakes, I need to stay in and make these.  And so should you.

This might be my favorite recipe for pancakes ever. It may sound odd to include ricotta, but the result is a perfect combination of light and fluffy pancakes with sweet blueberries. They are best when cooked on a cast iron skillet in lots of butter so that the edges get crispy.  You can obviously use other add-ins (they are also good plain) but I think blueberries are the best.

Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberries
makes about 6 servings
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
3 large eggs, separated
1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
6 ounces ricotta cheese ( ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons)
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Unsalted butter, for the griddle
1 pint fresh or frozen blueberries
Maple syrup

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the milk, ricotta, sugar, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until batter is combined but still kind of lumpy.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Beat at high speed until peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Heat the griddle over medium heat and lightly butter it. Cook the batter (ladling about ¼ cup at a time) and sprinkle with blueberries. Transfer them to a pan in the warm oven while you make the rest. Serve with butter and syrup!

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