Hotcakes de Harina de Maiz
Makes 16 pancakes, enough for 4 or 5
These aren’t a little-known Mexican specialty I sussed out from the pages of some obscured cookbook. No, we created them at Frontera to celebrate an amazing, flinty heirloom cornmeal that had been raised by the Iroquois nation since time immemorial. It can be made with a special yellow or white or blue cornmeal you discover, too, or with cornmeal from the grocery story—you have lots of choices. First choose the texture of the pancake: a coarser grind of cornmeal gives the pancake a bit of crunch. Then choose its thickness: less buttermilk gives you a thicker, heftier pancake, while more gives you one that’s lacier and lighter with a creamy texture. And finally, choose the adornment: for that, I think the cinnamon-infused agave syrup is delicious.
1 ½ cups coarsely-ground cornmeal, finely-ground cornmeal or a combination of the two
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 to 3 cups buttermilk
¾ cup vegetable oil
4 to 8 tablespoons (2 to 4 ounces) butter
About a cup warm Cinnamon Agave Syrup (recipe follows) or maple syrup, for serving
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and vegetable oil. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk until a smooth batter forms. (If you used the full amount of buttermilk, the batter will be thin.)
Heat a heavy (preferably nonstick or seasoned cast iron) griddle or very large (12-inch) skillet over medium until it’s hot enough that a drop of water skips across the surface and evaporates almost immediately. Use a tablespoon of butter to film the surface, then pour the batter onto the hot griddle, using about a ¼ cup per pancake. Leave an inch of space between each one. Cook until bubbles form and pop on the surface, about 2 minutes, then flip the pancakes and cook until golden-brown on the other side. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a low oven. Repeat with the remaining batter, re-greasing the griddle between batches, until all has been used. Serve the pancakes immediately with the warm syrup.
Cinnamon Agave Syrup
Miel de Agave y Canela
Makes about 1 cup syrup
1 cup agave syrup (light organic syrup gives great flavor here)
A 2- or 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
In a medium saucepan combine the agave syrup and cinnamon over medium heat. Bring the syrup to a simmer, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the cinnamon infuse until the syrup has cooled. Discard the cinnamon stick. This syrup is best served warm.