Johnny Cakes with Sorghum-Glazed Bacon and Corn Cream

This brunch recipe, courtesy of Chef Dawn Burrell, is a blend of salty, sweet, savory, and spicy flavors.

Dawn Burrell|Jun 07, 2022
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3 Hours

8-10 Servings

Medium

cornmeal | bacon | brunch

Johnny cakes

are a beloved Southern staple that likely originated as an Indigenous dish. Chef Dawn Burrell developed this recipe from memories of the ones her grandmother used to make growing up. Check out her forthcoming restaurant

Late August

for more takes on comfort food from all over the world.

If you’re short on time, you can just whip up a batch of these hearty cornmeal pancakes on the

Griddle

, but if you can, take the time to candy some thick cut bacon in a sweet and spicy sorghum glaze and purée fresh corn into a savory cream sauce. The mixture of flavors and textures are perfectly balanced and lead to a delicious and filling meal.

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Ingredients

For the Cream Corn

2

ears corn, shucked

1

shallot, thinly sliced

1

thyme sprig

2

cups heavy cream

½

teaspoon kosher salt

For the Sorghum-Glazed Bacon

2

thyme sprigs

1 ¼

cup cane vinegar (or rice vinegar)

¾

cup sorghum syrup (or maple syrup)

1

tablespoon chili garlic paste (such as sambal oelek)

1

pound thick-cut bacon (sliced about ¼” thick)

Neutral oil, for cooking

For the Johnny Cakes

6

tablespoons unsalted butter

4

large eggs

1 ¼

cups light brown sugar

3

cups buttermilk

1 ½

cups yellow corn meal

3

tablespoons baking powder

1

tablespoon kosher salt

2

cups all-purpose flour

Clarified butter or ghee, for cooking

Instructions

STEP 1

To make the Corn Cream, cut the corn kernels off of the cob.  Place kernels in a

4QT Saucepan

.  Add shallot, thyme, and heavy cream.  Simmer until cream has reduced by half, 10–12 minutes. Let cool slightly, discard thyme, and blend in a blender until completely smooth. Season with salt.  Return puree to a pot over low heat and keep warm. (Makes about 3 cups.)

STEP 2

To make the Sorghum Glaze, add thyme, vinegar, syrup, and chili garlic paste to a

2QT Saucepan

and heat over medium. Cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally, 15–20 minutes.

STEP 3

Heat a large

Carbon Steel Frying Pan

over medium-high. Add 2 Tbsp. oil to the pan.  Working in batches if necessary, add bacon in a single layer and cook until fat has rendered and bacon is cooked through and crisped. If you have a

Grill Press

, use it to flatten the bacon as it cooks.

STEP 4

Pour off the excess fat (reserve for later use if you like) and reduce the heat to low.  Add about 2 Tbsp. sorghum glaze to the pan and turn to coat and glaze the bacon. Wipe out the pan and repeat the process until all the bacon is glazed. Transfer the bacon to a

Sheet Pan

and set aside. Reserve remaining sorghum glaze for serving.

STEP 5

To make the Johnny Cakes, start by browning the butter. Place the butter in a

Butter Warmer

over medium heat and melt. Swirl the pan occasionally until the butter stops foaming and the milk solids start to smell nutty and turn golden brown. This process should take 3–5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

STEP 6

Crack eggs into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add light brown sugar and brown butter and whisk together. Whisk in buttermilk. Add cornmeal, baking powder, and salt and whisk again (there might be some foaming). Gently fold in flour with a spatula until just combined; the batter will still be lumpy.

STEP 7

Heat a

Griddle

over medium.  Add clarified butter to the pan.  Use a large spoon or ¼ cup measure to pour about 3 Tbsp. of johnny cake batter to the griddle and cook until bottom edges crisp up and bubbles form on the top, 3–5 minutes. Lower heat as needed to cook cakes all the way through without burning them. Flip and finish cooking on the other side, about 1 ½ minutes. (Makes 25–30 3” cakes.)

STEP 8

To assemble: place three johnny cakes on a plate, shingling the bacon in between. Finish with corn cream on the side and a drizzle of sorghum glaze over top.