Recipe: Fargo Pancakes House Pancakes

"Where is Pancakes House?"

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Coen Brothers' "Fargo", one of their most successful and certainly one of my favorite films.  The darkly comedic crime drama mostly takes place, despite the title, in Minnesota, and the famous "Minnesota nice" accent used by most of the characters is one of its more memorable traits.  Hop into a time machine to 1996 and you'll probably find more than a few people saying "You betcha, yah", whenever Fargo comes up.

I could never tire of this film because it features one of my favorite characters.  Marge Gunderson, played by Frances McDormand (who won an Oscar for the role), is the seven-months-pregnant police chief looking into a trio of murders left behind when a kidnapping goes wrong.  Though the central character, she doesn't actually appear until a good half hour into the movie, but she shines as a beacon of decency in a film filled with liars and cowards and murderers.  And since she's a mother-to-be, it seemed appropriate to reference her this Mother's Day.

Of course, the movie wouldn't be what it is if all the kidnapping and murder weren't countered with some truly funny moments.  One of my favorites is Peter Stormare's psychopathic Gaear Grimsrud's obsession with pancakes.

This scene is also referenced by Stormare in a making-of documentary featured on the Fargo blu-ray, as an example of the specificity with which the Coens write their scripts:

I said, “It’s gotta be Pancake House.” And then when we were doing the scene, I was saying "Where’s the Pancake House?" And Ethan: “Peter?” “Yeah?” “What were you saying there?” "Where’s the Pancake House?" “No, it says Pancakes House.” “Oh, I thought it was a typo.” “No, no, there’s no typos in our scripts.”

So here's my tribute to Fargo, in the form of pancakes.  And, because I'm a little twisted, I decided to use some powdered sugar and strawberry syrup to homage the rather stark visual at the end of the film of a wood chipper loudly spraying blood into the white snow.

...I promise it's tasty.

Pancakes House Pancakes

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons melted butter

Strawberry Syrup

2 1/2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

For the Strawberry Syrup:

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan with a lid.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain the sauce with a fine mesh strainer to remove the strawberry solids.  Be sure to press on the strawberries in the strainer to get as much syrupy goodness out as possible. 

Return the strained liquid to the saucepan and heat to a boil.  Continue to cook at medium-high heat (don't let it boil over) until it thickens to a syrup-y consistency.  Remove from heat - it will thicken a bit more as it cools.

For the Pancakes:

Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a small bowl.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg, milk and vanilla together.  Add the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed (don't over mix).  Add the melted butter and stir to combine.  Your batter should have some lumps.

Use a non-stick pan or add a tablespoon of canola oil to a regular pan and heat over medium.  Add 1/3 cup of the batter to the middle of the pan.  Wait until the batter bubbles and the edges pull away from the pan, then flip and cook until lightly browned on both sides.

To serve, stack 2-3 pancakes and sift powdered sugar on top.  Spoon on strawberry syrup and fresh strawberries, if desired.  Yah?  Yah.