This pancake recipe? It’s from Al's Breakfast, and it's fantastic, one that totally belongs on the breakfast rotation of pancake makers, everywhere. (To me, it ranks right up there with this formula, from Saveur magazine’s must-own cookbook, “The New Comfort Food”). It's also easy; why would you ever rely upon a generic mix when glorious Al's-like flapjacks can be had after completing just a few basic tasks?

The recipe hails from “James Beard’s All-American Eats” (Rizzoli, 2016), and when it was published last spring, I remember telling Al's co-owner Doug Grina that I was happy to see his small restaurant receive such big play in the cookbook's pages; mighty Al's deserves nothing less. (For my recent conversation with Grina and his new co-owner, Alison Kirwin, go here).

He agreed, but pointed out that there was a mistake in the recipe, regarding the blueberries.

“It should specify Maine blueberries,” he said. “That’s the secret.”

What Grina means is they should be small berries. Agreed.

Also noted: Order pancakes at Al’s (they're pictured above, in an image by Star Tribune photographer Tom Wallace), and they’ll arrive, hot off the griddle, with a dreary faux-maple syrup concoction, one of the few missteps in what is otherwise a near-perfect a.m. experience.

Fortunately, genuine maple syrup is available, for a modest fee. In my opinion it's a mandatory investment, which explains why I enjoyed seeing this recipe specify “maple syrup.” Hurrah.   

Blueberry and Walnut Pancakes

Makes about 12 pancakes.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From "James Beard's All-American Eats" by the James Beard Foundation (Rizzoli New York, 2016).

2 c. buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for cooking and serving
1/2 c. frozen blueberries
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
Maple syrup

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk and beaten egg. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in melted butter. Allow batter to sit, at room temperature, for at least 15 minutes (or overnight, in the refrigerator).
When ready to cook, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat in a heavy skillet or griddle. When butter is sizzling, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake onto the skillet, leaving space between the pancakes. (Depending upon the size of your griddle, it'll take 3 or 4 batches to make all of the pancakes. Be sure to add more butter to the griddle between each batch.)
Reduce heat to low and immediately place 5 or 6 frozen blueberries and 3 to 4 walnut pieces on each pancake. Cook until lightly brown, turning once with a spatula, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.