I picked up this idea from food writer Mark Bittman: he calls them “tiny pancakes.” (Here’s his original recipe.) It was born out of wanting to make himself something quick to eat, and finding some leftover scallops on hand. Don’t worry; you don’t need scallops to make this! Just about any leftovers will do, and you could do this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or brunch. Or appetizers. Or a midnight snack.
You make a quick, simple batter, and whisk in some finely chopped meat, fish, veggies, fruit — don’t be afraid to experiment! Then you pour them in a hot skillet and fry them up quickly. Drizzle or sprinkle them with something if you like, and gobble them up! Total time from “what’s in the fridge” to “yum, that was good!” – 15 minutes, tops. Unless you need to cook some of the meat or veggies first. But choose the right ingredients, and you won’t need to do any prep except maybe to quickly chop them down to a small dice.
I’ve made them a couple times. Shown in the featured image at the top of this post: barbeque chicken. I had less than one serving leftover from last night’s barbeque chicken, and some already-diced onion and bell pepper. I sauteed the veggies until the onion was translucent (optional, depending on the texture you want), then pulled them out and mixed them into the batter with the chicken. For my drizzle — are you ready? this is going to sound weird! — I mixed some barbeque sauce, a squeeze of lime juice, and a wee dab of adobo sauce into some mayo. Hey, it worked!
Next up: my spin on a Denver omelette…
On another day, I mixed diced ham, raw bell pepper, and sliced green onion into the batter. My drizzle that day was 2 teaspoons of mayo and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. I put them on top of a bit of baby spinach to up the veggie quotient.
Mr. Bittman makes eight tiny pancakes from his recipe; I make four or six. Making them any of these small sizes means they cook up quickly and evenly.
Here’s the core recipe, with my own tweak for those who are gluten-free.
fat for the pan, your choice: butter, olive oil, coconut oil, bacon fat, ghee – it’s all good!
2 teaspoons water
2 Tablespoons all-purpose (wheat) flour OR 1.5 Tablespoons rice flour, for gluten-free
diced ingredients of your choice; all the ingredients together should total 1/2 cup or less
optional: something to drizzle or sprinkle over the top
Preheat a small skillet over medium heat.
Whisk the egg, water and flour till fairly smooth, then gently whisk in the diced ingredients.
Test the pan to see if it’s “pancake-ready.” Dip your fingers in water and flick them over the hot pan. If the water droplets just sit on the pan, it’s not hot enough yet. If they hiss and evaporate quickly, it’s too hot. If they skittle around a bit before evaporating, it’s just right. Add the oil or fat of your choice, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and give it a minute to heat up.
Spoon the batter into the pan, making four to eight equally-sized dollops. Once they start to pucker a bit around the edges, check the underside. When the underside is nicely browned, flip them over and cook till browned on the second side. It will probably be a little less time than the first side.
Here are some of Mark Bittman’s variations, including a couple desserty options:
Here are some variations I’ve dreamed up but haven’t tried:
- Bacon, deli turkey and/or deli ham with chopped drained tomatoes. Drizzle with honey-mustard or Ranch dressing.
- Leftover roast turkey and chopped veggie of your choice — Brussels sprouts or green beans, maybe — and schmear with cranberry sauce.
- Leftover taco meat and green onions. Pour on some salsa and/or dollop some guac.
- Any leftover stir-fry. Drizzle with the Asian sauce of your choice. Sriracha, anyone?
- Salmon and onions. Top with chopped tomatoes, and drizzle with a vinaigrette or honey-mustard.
What could you come up with? If you try something new and love it, please come back and share!
Notes about flours. You may be wondering, “Can I use almond or other nut flours? Coconut flour? Arrowroot or tapioca starch?” I haven’t actually tried them, but here’s my best guess, based on using each of these in other recipes.
Nut flours won’t soak up any moisture and will add a graininess to the texture, so I don’t think they’d work great. Coconut flour is different than any other flour: it soaks up a lot more moisture. So you could try it, but use way less — maybe just a teaspoon?? Tapioca and arrowroot tend to make things kind of gummy, and I’m not really sure what they’d do here. But if you’re willing to risk one egg and ten minutes, give it a try. That’s how you learn!