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Photo by Adam Ewing
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Photo by Isaac Harrell
For a child of the 1970s, pancakes meant a red box of "just-add water" Aunt Jemima mix, and, if we were really going exotic, some shredded apple or a few dots of tiny wild Maine blueberries from a can. A move to the South, thankfully, brought cornmeal and buttermilk into the mix, and I couldn't be happier. Here's a five-stack of perfectly pleasing pancakes.
Pigs in a Blanket
A delightful balance between sweet and savory, Dot's Pigs in a Blanket entrée wraps two smoky andouille sausages inside dense, buttery pancakes. The grilled sausage's subtle heat offsets the sweetness of the
pancakes and syrup. Available at brunch on the weekends, this is a house favorite. 4030 MacArthur Ave., 266-3167 or dotsbackrichmond.com — CA
Light, citrusy and luscious describe the three 5-inch-wide pancakes at Selba. Sprinkled with a little powdered sugar and served with a sampler of butter and syrups, these pancakes are so airy that you'd better put a fork in them soon after they arrive or they might float away.
2416 W. Cary St., 358-2229 or selbarichmond.com
No, Aunt Sarah's isn't a national chain. Started 50 years ago on Brook Road, the restaurant has five locations. Now that that's out of the way, on to the pancakes. The cornmeal that gives these babies just enough body teams up well with the pops of blueberries. They're oh-so-nice with a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. 4205 W. Broad St., 358-8812 or auntsarahsrestaurants.com
Sunday Buffet Pancakes
When the waitress said, "We haven't done a good job unless we roll you out," after pointing out the hefty $9.95 Sunday brunch buffet, we knew we had hit pay dirt. The pancakes were like the restaurant itself — traditional with a little buttermilk mixed in. You'll think of grandma's comfort food, and that's because The County Seat involves four generations. (And don't even think about skipping the scratch-made sweet rolls.)
3883 Old Buckingham Road, Powhatan, 598-5000 or thecountyseat.com — CA
Walnut Griddle Cakes
The Empress knows how not to overwhelm with the pancake. Two manageable-size cakes arrive with a dollop of apple preserves. Not too sweet with a nice crunch from the nuts, these cakes are the understated brunch companions that you want seated at your table. (They also can be served gluten-free.) 2043 W. Broad St., 592-4000 or theempressrva.com
- Pancakes with Brown Sugared Apples and Vanilla Butter at The Roosevelt
- Gluten-Free Banana-Oatmeal Pancakes at Mosaic
- Pumpkin Spice Pancakes at Arcadia
- Zucchini Bread Pancakes at Can Can
- Trailer Park Pancakes at Galaxy Diner (they're not even pancakes)
What makes a perfect strip of bacon?
Parks and Recreation carnivore Ron Swanson once told a waiter to bring him "all the bacon and eggs you have."
Belmont Butchery owner Tanya Cauthen shares his love for cured meats. She spends seven to eight days curing her pork, producing 200 pounds of bacon a week.
"The first thing is obviously a good animal," Cauthen says. "The higher the quality of the feed and the better the environment, the better quality of the meat."
For her basic bacon, she uses hormone-free, antibiotic-free farmer's mix pork bellies. Skinning and trimming the belly by hand to get the right thickness, Cauthen says what makes the best bacon is an equal ratio of fat to meat.
Occasionally customers request leaner bacon, blasphemy in Cauthen's eyes.
"My comment is, ‘eat less bacon,' " she says. "Eat two slices of fatty bacon rather than four lean. Fat is flavor."
Rubbing in a dry-cure mix and house seasonings before loading the bellies in separate tubs by flavor, she rotates them every other day to cure in the brine.
After nearly a week, she washes the excess cure from the pork and dries it out overnight before hot smoking it at a low temperature. When the bacon comes off the smoker, it's technically ready to eat — but she's not done yet.
Cauthen refrigerates the pork overnight again, allowing the fat to re-congeal and enhance the flavor. Then she slices it to order.
"The thing I like about our bacon is it's just yummy, meaty goodness," she says. "It's salty, it's got a nice smokiness. Every batch is a little different." —Catherine Amos
The Perfect Pancake | The Perfect Patio