So I’m back from vacation, and ready to shave a few more weeks off my life in the service of science — bacon science, that is. This week’s mission: to make and eat bacon pancakes. And I don’t just mean regular pancakes with some chopped up bacon in them; I mean the baconiest bacon pancakes that ever baconed bacon. Or something like that.
I was inspired to this idea by a link to the very cool “historic gastronomy” blog Four Pounds Flour that several people sent me. In this article, an old ad for Rath bacon shows bacon pancakes being made by pouring batter over full strips of cooked bacon. As soon as I saw the ad, I knew I had to try it for myself.
My first step was to fry up some bacon. Since I was working without a recipe, I didn’t know if it would work best with crisp bacon or still-slightly-chewy bacon, so I made two strips each way. I chose to cook the bacon right on the griddle I was going to use for the pancakes, because that way I could use some of the rendered bacon fat as the cooking grease, and besides, why dirty more dishes, right? I also kept the fat I poured off ready at hand for another use, about which more in a minute.
Now, I’ll freely admit that I can be a bit of a food snob about some things, and pancakes are one of them. I’m usually the pancake-maker in my house, and I’ve tried enough different recipes over the years that I knew exactly which one I wanted to use this time: the one from the cookbook Welcome to Junior’s!, slightly modified and halved. That meant 0.75 cup of flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1.5 tbsp baking powder, 0.25 tsp salt, 0.75 cup milk, 1 egg, 1.5 tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and … the recipe calls for vegetable oil, but it seemed to me that any kind of fat would probably work fine, so I put in 1.5 tsp of the rendered bacon grease. Because we’re talking extreme bacon pancakes, and what could be more extreme than actually putting bacon grease in the batter itself?
From there it was pretty simple. I made sure there was a thin layer of bacon grease on the griddle, put down a strip of bacon, carefully poured batter over it, and cooked it as I usually would. Strip #1 was crisp, strip #2 was still-slightly-chewy, and since I figured that was enough for the test I changed things up a little for strips #3 and #4. For #3, I poured a little batter on the griddle first, put the bacon strip on top of it, then poured more batter over it, thus ensuring the strip was entirely encased in pancake. For #4, I broke the strip roughly in half, laid the pieces side-by-side, then poured the batter around and over them, thus making a more conventionally-shaped pancake.
Then I sat myself down with the pancakes (which I’d kept warm in a 200°F oven while finishing the cooking), a jug of grade B maple syrup, and a cup of limeade to wash it down. I ate all of the first two pancakes. My good friend Dave, who’d been so kind as to loan me his baking powder (as I’d belatedly realized I was out of it), ate the third one, and I saved the fourth for the next day.
The pancakes were incredible. Really, if you like bacon and you like pancakes, you owe it to yourself to try this at least once. It’s not even that horribly unhealthy, really, because each pancake is so filling you won’t want to eat that many of them. Every single bite had what in my opinion was the perfect balance between meaty, salty, airy and sweet. I think the fact that I used uncured bacon (yes, I know, that means it wasn’t technically bacon, but the taste is right even if the terminology isn’t), so it wasn’t overly salty, helped a lot, as of course did the application of maple syrup. Please, I beg you as a food snob, don’t sully the bacony goodness that these pancakes represent by using anything but real maple syrup on them, unless of course you have a medical reason for doing so.
The $25 gift certificate to ThinkGeek this time goes to @xwordy, who as far as I can tell was the first person to send me a link to an article about the old bacon ad. If you think you sent me something about it before that tweet, please send me an email and I’ll investigate. And please keep those ideas coming! I haven’t yet been ordered by my doctor to stop doing this, so there’s plenty more Great Bacon Odyssey yet to come, and more gift certificates to give out. You can email me, tweet me, or leave a comment on this post. Thanks!