World’s Best Pancakes

pancakesI love pancakes. In fact, I adore pancakes.  If it took no time to make them (and no calories), I would eat pancakes twice a week.  Unfortunately work and children conspire to take up my pancake time, and I settle for lesser food in the mornings.  (And I gladly make that choice, but I think it is ok to occasionally lament the good things we give up for better things).

This is another food that I would make ok at home but head to a restaurant for better on the weekends.  I even went through a phase when we used a powdered mix to save time and effort.  I learned that some things are worth the effort, or left alone until the time can be set aside to do them right.  Save yourselves from box mixes and instant foods!
So one day I finally had sufficiently bad pancakes to push me the the Internet in pursuit of the perfect recipe.  And there are a lot of them; some good, some terrible.  I tried twelve different pancake recipes, all claiming to be the best.  And some were really good.  We finally found one that headed toward great, but not quite there.  We tweaked, and we adjusted.  We tested and we adapted.  What we ended up with was different than all the others, with a little borrowed from a lot of different ideals.
We call them the World’s Best Pancakes.  It is a little bit hyperbole, but not much.  I think you’ll like what we came up with.

Notes.
We are at 4200 ft altitude.  You may need slightly less flour, and maybe a pinch less baking soda if you are at sea level.  Please post a comment on any success or failure at different elevations.
Also, this makes a LOT of pancakes.  Most people have extras at the end.  They freeze well and heat up nicely in a toaster or oven, or you can half or third the recipe.
One other thing, the syrup makes a big difference.  Either use a high end syrup, or at least get one made from sugar (like Log Cabin) and not made from corn syrup.  Or try these with strawberries and caramel sauce.

pancakes

World's Best Pancakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 40 - 3" pancakes
 
These pancakes are so good, they will ruin your appetite for all other pancakes.
Ingredients
  • 3¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3½ cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoon vinegar
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
Instructions
  1. In a medium glass bowl (4 cups or larger) make the sour milk, starting with the lemon juice and vinegar, and adding the milk until a you have a total of 3½ cups. Let sit at least five minutes while you mix the dry ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the glass bowl with the sour milk, and the eggs and beat or whisk together. Once combined, slowly beat in melted butter. Keep the wet and dry mixtures separate until just before cooking.
  4. Heat your electric griddle to between 325 and 350. You know it's ready when you can flick water drops onto the surface and they bead up, sizzle, and dance for a moment before evaporating.
  5. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture, and whisk together. Do not over stir; mix just enough to bring together, a few small lumps are ok.
  6. Pour in ⅓ to ½ cup per pancake and brown on both sides, as if you are cooking pancakes. Which you are.
  7. Serve hot.

 

Red Sauce with Italian Sausage

res sauceI think if we are to be honest with ourselves, most of us have had a love of a basic Red Sauce since we were too young to put a name to it.  I was enamored with Spaghetti-O’s, Chef Boy-R-Dee Beef Ravioli, and even those way too cheaply made pizzas sold in the deli section of the local grocery store.  You know the kind not really frozen pizzas, but may have once been?  I could not get enough of them.
As I got older, I progressed to slightly better sauce, the kind in those jars in the Italian aisle.  If I was truly lucky, my mom would make a homemade spaghetti, but not often enough.  Not by far.
When I got out on my own, I discovered Olive Garden, Spaghetti Factory, and Brick Oven.  It was amazing what a good Red Sauce could taste like.  I discovered some white sauces, and even a lemon butter sauce (both still great sauces in their realms) but eventually I would return to the Red Sauce.
One day, in all my arrogance, I proclaimed “How hard could it be? There are only a few basic ingredients!”  I was then in for years of searching and experimenting for the right ratios of those basic ingredients.  Had I known then how much effort and time it would take me, I am not sure if I wouldn’t just keep going to restaurants and work on other foods.  I am glad I did.  I think i am a better cook for the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I made some ok sauces, and I got to eat a lot of Red Sauces along the way.  I also made some sauce that was only good with Parmesano-Romano cheese.  A lot of cheese.  And really strong garlic bread.
I finally came upon some Italian sausages at the local Costco.  When mixed with the pretty good sauce I had been playing with, I ended up with something spectacular.  It had balance, nuance, and flair.  And it was pretty simple to make.

In other words, it was a truly great Red Sauce.

 

Dice the Onion.  Crush the garlic.  Grate the carrots.  Open the cans of tomatoes.  Brown the sausages.

I will warn you that this makes a good sized batch.  Feel free to cut it in half or even quarters.  And patience will reward you.  It is not a five minute recipe by any means, but will take several hours, depending on how high a simmer you have it.  If you do it higher, please stir more often; you don’t want it burned, that’s not good sauce.

Oh, and Food Handler warning.  I only brown the sausage before cutting it and adding it to the sauce.  Please follow safe practices and don’t taste the sauce with undercooked pork or chicken in it; Once the meat is in, be patient and simmer it for a few hours before you taste test it.

italian sausagesred saucered sauce

Red Sauce with Italian Sausage
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
I use the Torino Italian Sausages sold at Costco. They are really amazing in this sauce.
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 – 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes – or one #10 can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup carrot, finely grated
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1¾ Tablespoon dried Oregano
  • 1¾ Tablespoon dried Basil
  • 1¾ Tablespoon dried Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons brown bugar (or to taste, sometimes up to 3 Tablespoons)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (roughly 1 T salt and ½ t pepper)

  • 20 Torino mild Italian Sausages
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot, saute the diced onion in olive oil until translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add crushed garlic and saute slightly (be careful to not burn it).
  2. Add the tomatoes, carrots, and all the seasonings (the rest of the ingredient list, minus the sausages). Stir together, and set the burner for a simmer.
  3. In a skillet, brown the sausages on all sides. It is OK if they are still raw in the middle, we just want them browned to add flavor. Cut them in thirds (depending on their size) and add to the sauce.
  4. Simmer the sauce for 2-4 hours, stirring every half hour or so, then taste and adjust salt, pepper, and brown sugar as needed.

 

Coleslaw

coleslawOn the pulled pork entry that I wrote yesterday, I promised to post the coleslaw recipe.  It works really well with the pulled pork: the little bit of crunch of the cabbage and the slaw sauce blends with the smokiness and seasoning of the pulled pork to make something epic.  It is awesome!  Even if you are not a huge coleslaw fan, you owe it to yourself to try these together!

Why? Because you have done something extraordinary in the past day or so and deserve something wonderful.  Or you are about to do something really nice for one of your neighbors.  Or you are an amazing person at heart.  With slaw this good, you can become someone worth the awesomosity! (Ok, that may not be a real word, but it should be!)

I like a good coleslaw with pulled pork, so when I started making my own bbq pork it naturally became a challenge to make a slaw that would be worthy of it.  Of course, to that point, the best slaw I had ever had was at Tony Romas, or Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Ok, so they weren’t perfect, but that had that something that would work with smoked and fried meats.

My first attempt at coleslaw was a vinegar based one, and it was proof positive that we all have failures in the road to success.  And it was nasty.  I obviously had no clue how to make coleslaw.  So I went on a research binge on the Internet.  What makes a good slaw? Why? And I ended up with four recipes that were all considered great by different groups.

So we made all four.  We quartered the recipes and then quartered a cabbage and made four different coleslaw.  It was a fair amount of work, but I really wanted a great slaw on my pulled pork.

They were all good.  We tasted them side by side, had friends try them, and I even took them to work and got various opinions.  We ended up taking bits from several of them and blending them to get the recipe presented here (with several recipes overlapping, but the one from Heather Likes Food more dominant than the others).  And we added more black pepper.  It’s amazing how coleslaw really likes black pepper and still doesn’t turn out peppery.

We have since served this to many people, with about half claiming they don’t like coleslaw.  I tell them to try it anyway, and many of them end up having more.  It really is that good, to convince coleslaw naysayers to give it another try.

So give it a try.  You really do deserve this.

Coleslaw
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Adapted from http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/the-best-coleslaw-ever/
Ingredients
  • ¼ Cup sweet onion, grated or chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded

  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ Cup mayonnaise
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
Instructions
  1. Combine carrots, onion, and cabbage in a large bowl.
  2. Combine vinegar, mayo, oil, sugar, tarragon, pepper, and salt and mix until smooth.
  3. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and mix well.
  4. Store in the fridge in a non-reactive container, plastic bowl, etc. I personally use a gallon zip-lock bag.
  5. This can be made a few hours before serving, but is better the next day, and considerable better on the second day.

 

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