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Bacon-and-Cheddar-Cornmeal-Johnnycakes

A uniquely New England tradition, johnnycakes are thought to have first originated in Rhode Island. The subtle crunch of cornmeal gives them appealing texture and a bit of heft. This version, embellished with crisp bits of bacon and sharp cheddar cheese and served with honey or syrup, makes a delightful sweet-and-salty breakfast treat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 4 thick applewood-smoked bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups white cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for serving
  • Honey, pure cane syrup or pure maple syrup for serving

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 200°F.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until crisp and golden, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off and reserve the fat, leaving a film of fat in the pan.

Reheat the fry pan over medium heat until hot. For each johnnycake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan and cook until bubbles form on the surface, about 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the johnnycakes and cook until golden on the other side, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the pan with more reserved fat, as needed. Serve the johnnycakes piping hot with plenty of butter and honey. Serves 4.

Variation:
For a spicier version of these johnnycakes, stir 1 seeded and minced jalapeño chili into the batter.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers (Weldon Owen, 2010).