Have some overripe bananas? Then make better pancakes.
Byline: Elizabeth Karmel Associated Press
I hate to throw overripe bananas away. It is such a wasted opportunity for fresh fragrant banana bread. But, there is only so much banana bread that one can eat. That is why I asked myself, what else can I make with overripe bananas?
And, since it was Sunday, banana pancakes popped into my head. I had never made banana pancakes with overripe bananas. I usually make them with slices of firm, slightly green bananas because that is how I like to eat fresh bananas. As it turned out, the overripe bananas are way better for pancakes.
I also wanted to try a pancake technique that a friend of mine swears by. You separate the egg and blend the yolk and the white into the batter at different times. It is supposed to make the pancakes lighter. I am not sure that it made that much difference but it is easy to do, doesn't take any extra time like beating egg whites, and the resulting pancakes were light and fluffy and toothsome all at once.
The recipe is pretty basic with both sour milk and cream used as the liquid. I had cream on hand, but you could use half and half. I opted for cream because my milk was 2 percent and not whole milk. If I had had whole milk in the fridge, I would have used whole milk and half and half. I also soured my milk with white vinegar, but you could substitute buttermilk for the milk and vinegar combination.
A touch of nutmeg accented the ripe banana. I mashed the bananas as if I was making banana bread and added it to the batter right before I made the pancakes. The result was incredible -- almost like banana bread pancakes. I love how the essence of banana was evident through the entire pancake but there were no discernible chunks of fruit.
Most pancake recipes instruct you to heat oil or melt butter in a skillet and "fry" the pancake. I prefer to cook them on a dry nonstick skillet so that they brown and bubble without any extra fat. If you do a side-by-side taste test, you can really see the difference. One looks like the top of a grilled quesadilla and the other resembles a baked good. The non-fried version is softer and more delicate in texture. The fried has a slightly crunchy top and is a bit greasy. Neither is right or wrong, it's all a matter of preference.
It's important to serve the pancakes with a good salted butter to bring out the banana flavor -- I like Kate's Homemade Butter or Kerrygold -- and real maple syrup. Other good additions are mini chocolate chips, dried coconut, toasted walnuts and pecans. These pancakes are good for breakfast, but even better served as "Breakfast for Dinner" with a side of crispy bacon.
* Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pitmaster at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and the author of three books, including "Taming the Flame."