I am Pancake Woman.
I love all manner of pancakes, both sweet and savory, stacked short or tall. I'll take them as small as silver dollars or as big as dinner plates; made with buckwheat, corn and potatoes; filled with fruits, nuts and chocolates; topped with whipping cream or sour cream; and baked, griddled, steamed or fried. If I had my way (and the metabolism of a hummingbird), I'd eat pancakes every morning. When it comes to breakfast, there's nothing better than a plateful of sweet, golden flapjacks . . .
. . . Except, perhaps, a bowlful of sweet, creamy rice. Did I mention that I am also Rice Woman?
I love all manner of rice, both plain and seasoned, sticky or fluffy. I'll take it as a side dish or as a dessert; from Bhutanese red to Japanese Koshihikari; topped with juicy meats and saucy vegetables; and baked, sautéed, steamed or fried. The way I grew up in a Filipino family, I have rice with nearly every meal - except breakfast. Now, I have found a rice dish that can claim the morning glory from my beloved 'cakes: Mahnomin Porridge.
'Gift from the Creator'
Mahnomin, or manoomin, means 'good berry' and is the word for wild rice in Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Ojibwe people who consider it a sacred gift from the Creator, known as Gitchi Manidoo:
"In the earliest teachings of Anishinaabeg history, there is a reference to wild rice, known as the food that grows upon the water [which] their ancestors were told to find so they would know when to end their migration west."
Winona La Duke, White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP)
As I noted in an earlier post ('An Envious Appetite'), it is not actually a rice but rather a grass seed* which grows in abundance along the banks of Minnesota's northern lakes and rivers. However, increased demand has led to its cultivation in large commercial paddies that yield a hard rice that is darker in color and requires nearly double the cooking time than the naturally-growing variety (source: Wikipedia/Wild rice). Truly 'wild' rice is still hand-harvested in Minnesota using traditional Ojibwe methods and is the main ingredient in one of the tastiest breakfast dishes I've ever eaten.
(*Blogger's note: Seed or not, it's still called 'rice', so I reserve the right to consider it part of my rice addiction.)
Straight from 'Hell'
It's fitting that the sinfully delicious Mahnomin Porridge was created in Hell's Kitchen, the Minneapolis restaurant where author and Roadfood.com editor Michael Stern declared he would spend his last $20 to stave off starvation. Among co-owner and chef Mitch Omer's standout offerings are hearty bison sausage bread, delicate lemon-ricotta pancakes and a homemade peanut butter so scrumptious, I'm willing to aggravate my mild peanut allergy for spoonfuls of the stuff. But the most heavenly dish in this hotspot is the soul-warming bowl of hand-harvested Minnesota wild rice saturated in heavy cream and maple syrup, then topped with toasted hazelnuts and dried berries. After my first taste, all the other breakfast items - including pancakes - simply faded away.
(Image from Amazon.com)500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late, from his book of the same title. For those of you who may not be so fortunate as to visit the Land of 10, 000 Lakes any time soon, I'm pleased to share with you the recipe for this hella good food. If you like it as much as I do, watch out for Mitch Omer's first cookbook, Damn Good Food: 157 Recipes from Hell's Kitchen, to be released in October 2009 and containing even more great dishes. By the way, a video recipe of that killer peanut butter can be seen here.
Fair warning: after you've tasted Mahnomin Porridge, you may not want to bother with the remaining 499 foods on Stern's list.
Google this dish and most, if not all, results will lead you back to Hell's Kitchen. On the restaurant's website, Chef Omer says he was inspired to create his recipe after reading 19th century trappers' journals that mentioned this food. Fortunately for all of us, he was generous enough to share it with local TV station KARE 11's Showcase Minnesota which, in turn, thoughtfully posted it on their website. Not wanting to break the spirit of sharing, I now pass it on to you.
4 cups cooked wild rice* (approximately 1 to 1 1/3 cups uncooked rice)
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 dried blueberries (I used fresh)
1/4 dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted hazelnut halves
(*It is well worth the effort and cost to use naturally-growing wild rice; I purchased mine from Scenic Waters Wild Rice Company.)
1. In a non-stick** sauté pan, mix cooked rice, cream and maple syrup, and cook until warmed through;
2. Add dried berries and hazelnuts and mix well;
3. Serve in a bowl with warm cream and maple syrup.
(**If you prefer not to use a non-stick pan, melt 1 to 2 Tbsps of butter in the pan to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom.)
Update 9/27/09: Above, I suggested using melted butter in the pan if you do not have non-stick cookware. However, this evening I had the pleasure of speaking with Chef Mitch Omer, who very nicely yet firmly noted that the flavor of Mahnomin Porridge would be fundamentally changed by the addition of butter. Instead, Chef Omer says to pour the cream into the pan first before adding the rice to prevent the latter from sticking.
Bi-wiisinin! [Anishinaabemowin for 'Come eat!']
A little extra cream . . .