Battle of the Zucchini Pancakes
I challenge you to a duel.
Photos by Christina Uticone
Zucchini pancakes are pretty high up on my list of perfect foods. They are simple to make, so tasty and delicious, and perfect for any meal or just a snack. They also freeze beautifully, so they make a wonderful way to use up a bumper crop of zucchini--a person can only eat so much zucchini bread, you know?
I recently ran across a box of Golden zucchini pancakes in the frozen food aisle. Since I had already been planning to whip up a batch of my own zucchini pancakes I thought I'd do a little side-by-side taste test to see how mine stack up ... zing!
To be honest, the frozen zucchini pancakes are pretty good--way better than I thought they would be. The zucchini flavor is pronounced, although not as clear as when the pancakes are made fresh. I do like that they are nicely browned before freezing, so they have a crispy outer crust after you cook them. I ate mine with a couple of eggs, doused with Crystal hot sauce, for a satisfying mid-morning breakfast.
On the down side, there was a bit of a frozen flavor remaining in the ready-made pancakes that neither cooking on the stovetop, nor warming in the toaster seemed to completely eliminate. I would have to buy these again to see if the problem persists, or if I just got a box that let a touch of freezer burn set in.
And now the portion of the article you've all been waiting for--the recipe to make your own zucchini pancakes! Before starting, it should be known that the best way to top these little gems is with a quick dollop of sour cream-and-garlic, which should be made and left at room temperature (for flavor-marrying purposes) while you mix and cook the pancakes.
Sour Cream Topping
Mix one-half to three-quarter cups of sour cream with 2-3 crushed cloves of garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cover and set aside--do not refrigerate--while you complete the zucchini pancakes.
You'll need: One cup all-purpose flour, one cup very cold water, one egg, 2-3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped), a generous pinch or two of salt, one teaspoon baking powder, a splash of club soda (optional), 2-3 medium zucchini (grated); butter for cooking
It's okay if you like it rough.
Start by grating all of the zucchini into a colander, and leave in the sink to drain. You'll still have to squeeze some water out before mixing, but let gravity do some of the work while you mix the batter. [A note about grating--go as fine or as rough as you like, it's really a personal preference. Sometimes I do a fine grate, others a rougher one to make a more hearty pancake.]
To make the batter, mix the flour and baking powder, then throw in a couple of generous pinches of salt. Beat one egg and add to the dry ingredients, then mix in the water slowly; I find a fork works better than a whisk here. Add a splash of club soda--I do this because I think it gives the batter a little lift, but that could absolutely be my imagination--and continue to mix until you get a pancake batter consistency; add the minced garlic.
Now it's time to add the zucchini! Take one handful of grated zucchini at a time, squeezing out water into the sink before adding it to the batter. Stir until the zucchini is mixed in, and then get ready for the best part.
Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat, and when it starts bubbling drop the batter into the pan in one-quarter cup scoops; I just use a measuring cup. Standard pancake cooking technique applies here: leave enough room for the pancakes to spread out, wait for the sides to puff and the bottom to brown before flipping, transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat this process until all the batter has been transformed into pancakes.
Zucchini pancakes can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or a side-dish. They make truly excellent drunk food, which is the best reason to keep them in the freezer, because cooking when drunk never works out well (for me anyway). My favorite way to eat these is hot and fresh from the pan (or toaster), with a generous dollop of the garlic sour cream. You can sprinkle with scallions or chives, for a little extra flavor and presentation value.
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