Johnny Cake Mix - best type?

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I've always heard of Johnny cakes as corn bread, in other areas it was pancakes. If your talking about cornbread, there's a thread buried somewhere here where NES'r GPP lays out his recipe that is so delicious you'll slap your momma for not cooking so good.
 
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My parents used to make them when my dad was out of work with 5 kids to feed. Between the taste and the memories of not so good times I will never eat them. Ever.
 

Manomet

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Kenyons, I always add a little sugar and no syrup. My kids never did get to liking them but my dad cooked them when I was growing up. Keep the unused box in the refrigerator.
 

Spanz

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historically, johnny cakes came from workers out on the plantation...they could cook them up on their shovels at lunch time over a fire
 

C. Stockwell

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*Cracks knuckles*

First thing's first, there's two different kinds of johnnycake. Mainland style is the thicker, hockey-puck, corn fritter type of johnnycake. Newport County style is paper thin corn crepes. I have no idea how to make Newport County jc's so this is going to be about Mainland jc's.

The only pedestrian form of jc mix is Kenyon's blue box of cornmeal. You can find the blue box at most supermarkets in RI cordoned off in like a RI products area. Most Stop and Shops have like a little kiosk near the fish that has jc mix and Kenyon's cornmeal (along with stuff from Iggy's) for say frying fish or codcakes or what have you. If all you want to do is go to a supermarket and buy something quick, Kenyon's blue box is your only option.

Kenyon's also sells a variety of other, more historical or oddball jc mixes. I suggest their flint corn cornmeal. You have to order this online or go to the grist mill to find it. Flint corn is a colonial-era variety of corn that most people would understand as Indian corn. Flint cornmeal jc's have a different, better texture than Kenyon's normal jc mix. Flint cornmeal is really the best way to go if you're really into jc's.

Rhode Island Johnny Cake Corn Meal, Yellow Corn Meal, Red and Blue Corn Meal

There's also Gray's in Tiverton. I believe you can find their cornmeal in stores around the Tiverton/FR area and in coffee shops, etc. or at Gray's mill proper. Gray's uses flint corn but requires a different cooking method than Kenyon's and has a more clumpy texture. With Kenyon's, you fry them in bacon grease and sometimes add in butter in order to fry the jc's like say a clam cake or french fries. Gray's is more like cooking a steak in a pan, you're not trying to deep fry them. I believe Gray's uses a more old school grinding method than Kenyon's.

Shop for Johnnycake Meal, Pancake & Waffle Mix from Rhode Island Historic Mill | Gray's Grist Mill.

Kenyon's and Gray's are the two available commercial varieties. There are also a few very small producers in RI that are run by elderly people who only sell their mix direct and may not always be open to the public 9-5, S-S:

*Carpenter's Mill, aka Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill, in South Kingstown is seasonal and run by an elderly couple

Carpenter's Grist Mill in Perryville - Farm Fresh RI

*There was a guy in Exeter off of RI102 who owned a farm and sold jc mix direct from his house. He doesn't come up on Google so unless you know the specific house, try asking around in Exeter at say Spring Hill Sugar House or Tilted Barn Brewery

Interesting, there was a manslaughter at Kenyon's Grist Mill in the 1890s when the then-mill owner shot a tenant with some variety of Winchester rifle. State v. Kenyon, 18 R.I. 217 (1893).

This also isn't getting into the appropriate jc topping (butter, maple syrup, RI maple syrup, nothing) or milk versus boiling water or any other ingredient topic. But jc's are more nuanced than your average bag of Bisquick pancake mix.
 

C. Stockwell

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Dr. Johnny Cake,,,,
More info than I would have thought existed
Thanks
There's a lot more too. In regards to cooking them (recipes) and what to put on them, it depends on how you like them. If you use milk, they come out with more of a donut-like texture. Using boiling water gives them a crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture. I used to throw in cinnamon and sugar but now my recipe is mix + boiling water + salt + fried in bacon grease with butter if needed. I don't use measurements, I just eyeball the amounts needed to make a plateful and to get the consistency of the mix right for frying. This obviously requires some experimentation.

I've had the Newport County style jc's before. I wasn't a fan. You can find them at Family Ties in Tiverton:

Family Ties Restaurant - as homemade as it gets!

I can't remember seeing Mainland jc's on restaurant menus where I'm from in northern RI. I suspect you'd be able to find them on menus in South County. Best bet is the Washington County Fair:

The Washington County Fair! - Richmond, RI

Usually I eat jc's as part of like a RI farmer's breakfast of jc's, eggs on toast/bagel/English muffin, and bacon, but they can also be served as an appetizer or as a dessert. They go exceedingly well with champagne because champagne pairs with fried foods. You're done for the day though if you eat a jc breakfast with champagne.

Cornmeal, just regular cornmeal that Kenyon's sells, also comes in handy for foods like seafood and wings that need a breading.
 

MisterHappy

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On the 16 yard line, shootin' for the Lewis!
Snax: it was that episode, that made us start talking about us

C: This is the exact non-lame reply that I was hoping for, from the Brain Trust

A while back, I read a book with a lot of odd New England stuff (that I can't find, now...). There was a section, written in the mid-1800s talking about the disappearance of real, old school johnnycakes...as the best were make with water that had never touched metal, and almost nobody had a wooden bucket and a well, anymore.

It was ALWAYS better, back in the day, even back in the day.
 

C. Stockwell

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Snax: it was that episode, that made us start talking about us

C: This is the exact non-lame reply that I was hoping for, from the Brain Trust

A while back, I read a book with a lot of odd New England stuff (that I can't find, now...). There was a section, written in the mid-1800s talking about the disappearance of real, old school johnnycakes...as the best were make with water that had never touched metal, and almost nobody had a wooden bucket and a well, anymore.

It was ALWAYS better, back in the day, even back in the day.
The last thing I'll mention is how to get the perfect consistency for frying.

If you buy normal Kenyon's blue box jc mix, it comes with very simple instructions that you follow. If you choose to improvise or ignore the written instructions, the goal is to get the mix into a slurry with a viscosity similar to cookie dough. You need the mix to stick onto a spoon in a large clump in order to drop the mix from the spoon into the hot frying grease. Obviously take great care with handling hot bacon grease. The jc's need to deep fry in the grease, similar to a codcake or a doughboy or homemade french fries, so add butter for more fat. Do not use sausage grease or vegetable oil (including canola, peanut, sunflower seed, etc.). You could probably use Crisco or schmalz or some other form of rendered fat, but bacon grease is the best. Fry up about six or more whole slices of bacon depending on how many people you're serving and what you're eating for breakfast. You need a minimum of six slices to generate enough grease for one or two peoples' jc's.

Kenyon's flint cornmeal mix and Gray's does not involve deep frying. I believe both bags come with instructions. With these, you're not trying to deep fry the jc's, but more like pan frying a steak. So you don't need as thick a consistency when mixing. When in doubt, follow the instructions to the letter. Kenyon's has been in business since 1696 and Gray's since before 1700 for a reason: they know their shit.

Edit: ONLY TURN THEM ONCE.

PS: some people, mostly from South County, consider it blasphemous to put anything on jc's. Being from northern RI, which has a lot of local maple syrup production, I'm ok with using local RI maple syrup on mine. Don't use cheap "pancake syrup", you need something with flavor and a more runny viscosity. Save the Aunt Jemima or Vermont Maid or Log Cabin Lite for pancakes or crepes. I will also spread butter on my jc's if I don't add butter to the frying process.
 
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Dennis in MA

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Glad taht you clarified. Most folks mean CORN BREAD when they say Johnnycakes. Some mean the burly firefighter cook. And the rest mean johnnycakes - the pancake-like-thing.

Not really a fan. A bit too fragile for a pancake type instrument. I'll take a good middle-of-teh-road cornbread over it every day. (Not New England overly sweet, not Down South Bitter as Hell.)
 

Spanz

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along similar lines, you can not go wrong with this hush puppy mix:

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bfm

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Bob's Red Mill corn meal. Medium grind will generally work well. I have experimented with a mix of fine and coarse to make them generally smoother but to have some toothy bits to it. Personal preference at that point though.

1 cup stone-ground
cornmeal

2 teaspoons sugar

¾ teaspoon salt

2 ¾ cups water, plus extra hot water for thinning batter

2 tablespoons
unsalted butter

2 tablespoons
vegetable oil

Whisk johnnycake meal, sugar, and salt together in bowl. Bring water to boil in large saucepan. Slowly whisk johnnycake meal mixture into boiling water until no lumps remain; continue to cook until thickened, about 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in butter. Pour batter into bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until slightly firm, about 15 minutes.

Rewhisk batter until smooth.
Batter should drop free from spoon; if not,
thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons extra hot water until mixture is able to drop easily from spoon.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering (or heat nonstick griddle to 400 degrees). Using greased 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, drop evenly spaced scoops of batter into skillet, using spoon to help release batter from cup as needed. Cook johnnycakes, without moving them, until edges appear crispy and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Carefully flip johnnycakes and press with spatula to flatten into 2 1/2- to 3-inch-diameter pancakes. Continue to cook until well browned on second side, 5 to 7 minutes.
 
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