The age old question (I'm sure): savory or sweet for breakfast?
We've all felt the mental paralysis before... wherein Sunday brunch beholds the single biggest decision you'll face all day, all week even. We've all been there. Praying you're sitting next to other people who get it—people who will suggest ordering something sweet for the table to share so that you can order Eggs Benedict or biscuits and gravy in peace and without regret. People who will over-order and over-indulge right alongside you. (That's my kind of ride-or-die.)
Always go to brunch with people who understand you.
I love dishes that strike an unexpected balance—dishes that may traditionally be too cloyingly sweet for my taste, but given a healthy dose of salt or heat in the form of some savory addition, become perfection.
Jon loves pancakes, but ever since spontaneously losing my penchant for sweets a few years ago (which I should write a whole post on another time), I almost never align with his cravings for them. But this rendition, which I first tried at a fantastic local brunch place called Atlas Eats, I can really get behind. It's a collision of breakfast worlds, combining eggs and sausage with pancakes and syrup. And it works so well.
Sausage pancakes with a fried egg and black pepper syrup
Yields 2 servings
⅓ lb ground pork breakfast sausage
½ cup or so maple syrup, or more if you like a lot of syrup on your pancakes
A few grinds of cracked, coarse black pepper (maybe ⅛ tsp or more, to taste)
Pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes
Robin’s pancake ingredients, or your favorite pancake recipe
Butter (a couple tablespoons total)
Pinch salt and freshly cracked black pepper to finish
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage, and crumble into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When sausage is just cooked through, use a slotted spoon to remove it and set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
Combine maple syrup, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan. Set over very low heat; you’re just warming it while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees with a baking rack (cooling rack) in it for keeping pancakes warm after cooking them. Then make pancake batter by whisking together all pancake ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat a griddle pan over medium heat, and when it’s come to temperature, swipe it with a little pat of butter. Note: the first pancake always comes out sub-par—so I always season the griddle pan with a small, throw away cake as a test round. Pour batter onto griddle, about ⅓ cup at a time. Sprinkle some crumbled sausage onto each pancake. Cook until bubbles cover the cake’s surface, and you can sneak a peek to check for a golden brown underside, and then use a spatula to flip. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute until cooked through, using a spatula to press down if the sausage is making the pancake difficult to cook through. Transfer cooked pancakes to baking rack in the oven while you work on the remaining pancakes.
When all pancakes are finished, place nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add a good amount of butter (maybe a tablespoon) to coat the pan. When it has come to temperature, crack eggs into it carefully to fry them whatever style you like best (I cook mine sunny side up and don't flip them; but I add a tiny bit of water to the pan and cover with a glass lid to steam the whites fully). Sprinkle eggs with a good amount of salt and pepper.
Pull rack of pancakes from the oven, and layer pancakes onto plates (I actually like to spread them out on the plate, not stack them as pictured). Add a pat of butter to each plate, and place a fried egg over each. Drizzle with black pepper syrup and serve right away (with hot sauce, even, if you're into that sort of thing!)