Chili Corn Pancakes
½ cup frozen corn kernels
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon tomato paste, or more as needed (see note)
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika (sweet)
½ cup no-salt-added canned black beans (see note)
1 cup dried polenta or coarsely ground cornmeal
¾ cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed (see note)
1½ cups half-and-half, or more as needed
Vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Place a small baking sheet in the oven; preheat to 200 degrees.
Place the corn in one microwave-safe bowl and the butter, tomato paste and smoked paprika in a separate bowl. Microwave them simultaneously on DEFROST for about 3 minutes, or until the butter has melted. Stir to combine the butter mixture; it will look like a loose red paste.
Drain and rinse the beans. You'll use ½ cup for the pancakes; reserve the rest for another use, such as a spread (see note, below). Trim the scallions and cut crosswise into thin slices.
Use a fork to stir together the dried polenta or cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the seasoned butter mixture and the half-and-half to form a thick yet spreadable batter, adding a bit more of the half-and-half, as needed.
Stir in the corn, black beans and half the scallions until evenly distributed.
Brush a large nonstick skillet lightly with oil, then place it over medium heat. Once it's hot, drop about 1/3 cup of the batter to form each pancake; 4 should fit. Cook for about 1½ minutes on the first side until lightly browned and just set on the bottom, sprinkling each one with a small pinch of salt. Gently flip them over (two spatulas works well) and finish cooking for 2 to 3 minutes on the second sides, until lightly browned and puffed. You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan between batches, or reduce the heat if the pancakes are browning too quickly. As they are done, transfer all the pancakes (but the last batch) to the baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm.
Divide among individual plates. Garnish each stack with the remaining scallions. Serve with salsa, and more butter at the table.
Note: If you would like to use the remaining black beans in this recipe, heat them in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH in 30-second increments, until quite hot. Use a potato masher to mash them into a paste, then add a teaspoon or two of tomato paste and season lightly with salt, stirring to incorporate. Coarsely chop the scallions (to taste), then stir into the mashed beans. After the pancakes are done, re-grease the skillet with a little oil, then quickly add the mashed mixture to the pan and heat through, stirring just a bit. Serve as a spread or accompaniment alongside the pancakes.
Serves 3 to 4 (makes about nine 4½-inch pancakes)
Nutrition: based on 4 servings. Calories: 510; Total Fat: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 12 g; Cholesterol: 70 mg; Sodium: 270 mg; Carbohydrates: 63 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 11 g.
Adapted from "Pancakes," by Ken Albala (Reaktion, 2008).