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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Palacinke

Greetings!

I hope you all had a safe and happy Cinco de Drinko yesterday. Yes, I know it's actually Cinco de Mayo, but what was originally a minor Mexican holiday celebrated locally in the city of Puebla where the famous battle took place, has been co-opted blown up into an event for the express purpose of pushing cheap, crappy booze here in the US. This is why I call it Cinco de Drinko. It's like a boozy version of President's Day.

Everyone's Mexican for a day on Cinco de Drinko!


While the rest of the nation made fools of themselves getting wasted on Mexican food and margaritas, I decided to try out my grandmother's recipe for palacinke (pron. pa-lah-cheen-keh). Palacinke are kind of like flat pancakes, very similar to crepes. I hesitate to use the word "crepes" as an analogy because to me, palacinke have more char to them than the light-colored crepes. This could just be because of the way my grandmother made them, as hers always had some char to them (she considered light colored palacinke to be underdone).

In a major departure from my usual protocol, I actually followed the recipe as it was given to me! I suppose this was probably because I was making it for the first time, and I didn't want the batter to come out too thick (palacinke batter is thin). I had tried making palacinke on my own in the past from memory, but they never seemed to come out quite like how I remembered them. Maybe now, I had a chance!

After combining the ingredients, I pulled out one of the cast iron skillets. My grandmother makes her palacinke using a Teflon-coated skillet, but since we don't have one anymore (the one Teflon skillet we had was used until the Teflon literally started disintegrating off the surface of the pan!), all I had to work with was cast iron.

The first palacinka


My husband likes to say that the use of cast iron cookware is a verifiable demonstration of one's cooking skills. Despite some recent successes in the kitchen of late, on this family recipe I failed miserably. Even though I poured some oil into the skillet, the rough surface caused the batter to adhere to the bottom of the skillet and thereby completely destroy the palacinka (singular version of palacinke). Even after I changed skillets to the smaller, enamel covered iron skillet that I usually use for frying eggs, I just could not get the resulting palacinke to stay together or fry to the point where it was cooked, but not crispy (properly done, palacinke are flexible enough to roll up). I changed the heat levels, the amount of oil and batter in the pan, and I just could not get them to come out the way my grandma made them. If they stayed together, they were hard and crispy, not soft and flexible like how she made them.

It would start out like this in the skillet...

...And then turn into this crumbly mess every time I tried to flip it!


Despite this disappointing first batch of palacinke, they were as tasty as I remembered. They tasted lovely with some raspberry jam. My husband was quite pleased with them, and encouraged me to try making them again. I suppose cast iron is not the most optimal cookware for making palacinke, but until I can find a small Teflon pan, this is all I have to work with. Maybe it is a matter of finding the right heat settings or oil-to-batter ratio. My grandma wasn't specific on what level of heat she used, but she does have a gas stove (ours is electric) in addition to the cookware differences. This will make for an interesting journey-the quest for the perfect palacinka!

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