Blue Cornmeal Pancakes


Blue cornmeal from New Mexico is hard to find but worth the search. The earthy, almost “smoky” flavor of blue corn is subtle and powerful at the same time. If you don’t have smoked duck or chicken, use cooked smoked ham.


  • 1 pound butter
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 smoked duck breasts, halved
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper
  • cups fine blue cornmeal
  • ¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup sweet butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter


Melt the butter with the chili powder in a double boiler or over very low heat. Strain through a fine-mesh wire strainer or several layers of cheesecloth. Discard the milky solids in the bottom of the pan. Keep the butter warm.

Bone the smoked duck breasts and remove the skins. Make the skins into cracklings and set them and the duck meat aside.

Roast, peel, and seed the peppers. Cut them into ¼-inch dice and combine them with the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With your fingers or a pastry blender, work ¼ cup butter into the dry ingredients.

Mix the egg and buttermilk and then stir it into the cornmeal mixture. Cook the pancakes in clarified butter following the directions for blinis (opposite), stirring the batter thoroughly before making each pancake.

Warm the duck breast in the oven and then cut each half into 4 or 5 slices, and place on top of each pancake, with a spoonful of the pepper relish. Pour 2 tablespoons of the chili-flavored butter around each pancake and garnish with the duck cracklings.