Sweet Potato Pancake Pigs in a Blanket & Ginger Orange Syrup

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Disclaimer: This conversation is sponsored and I received compensation for this post. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a fun, simple recipe that the whole family will love. When I was a kid, I remember ordering pigs in a blanket at diners. They were simply sausage links wrapped in a plain pancake, but anything made into some kind of wrap or sandwich just seems better, does it not? Well when Johnsonville Sausage asked me to create a holiday brunch recipe using their breakfast sausage links, I wanted to update that idea and put my twist on it. Immediately I thought of a sweet potato pancake recipe that I've been itching to share. Sweet potato really compliments the pork sausages here, especially with a tasty ginger and orange infused maple syrup as a dipping sauce. These are just the right size to make as a special breakfast treat for the kids, but they'll also make perfect little bites for adults at a casual brunch.

Between pies and holiday side dishes, I always seem to have leftover mashed sweet potato on hand this time of year. If you don't, just roast a sweet potato in the oven the night before and you'll have what you need for the next morning. You could always utilize your microwave to quickly bake a sweet potato, but I think roasting is worth the extra time to bring out the potato's natural sweetness. Look for Jewel or Garnet Yams in your grocery store for the best flavor! Johnsonville makes a few flavors of their breakfast sausage links, and any of those will shine in this recipe. If you want a sweeter dish, opt for the Vermont Maple Syrup or Brown Sugar & Honey flavors. If you want to keep things on the savory side, the Original Recipe will work great.

This may be a whimsical take on brunch, but the recipe is as straightforward as it gets. I have a pretty solid buttermilk pancake formula, and it's become easy to modify when I want to switch up the ingredients a bit. This one is most like my pumpkin pancakes posted this fall. In fact, if you're not a sweet potato fan, pumpkin puree would be a wonderful option to try as well. I scaled down the recipe by half so that you end up with an amount that will work with one package of breakfast sausage links. Since pancakes are so easy to make and freeze though, I went ahead and cooked a double batch and just saved the extras. My son loves being able to grab a couple pancakes in the morning before school, and I love not having to worry about making them so early!

Tender sweet potato pancakes, wrapped around juicy pork sausage links and drizzled with that gingery syrup...all win. I had a lot of fun doing this recipe and it was a welcome break from some of the more involved holiday cooking I do. The flavor profile is familiar enough to appeal to children, but interesting enough that grown ups will dig it too. Sweet Potato Pancake Pigs in a Blanket are sure to be a hit at your next brunch!

Sweet Potato Pancake Pigs in a Blanket & Ginger Orange Syrup

12 oz. package Johnsonville fresh breakfast sausage links
1 c. White Lily all purpose flour (or substitute 1/2 c. of your regular brand of AP flour and 1/2 c. cake flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. mashed roasted sweet potato, cooled
2 tbsp melted and cooled butter
2 tbsp brown sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp apple pie spice
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1 c. buttermilk, approx.
1 egg
2 tbsp coconut oil or butter, for griddle

For the Ginger Orange Syrup:
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/2" knob fresh ginger
1 small orange or tangerine
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp butter

Servings: Makes 14; estimate 2 per person as appetizer or 4 as entree
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Equipment Suggested: Griddle or large cast iron skillet, additional nonstick skillet, blender or food processor, small pot

Below you'll find some recommended cooking tools that I've personally selected. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a small commission (however your cost will always be the same!)

I like to start my syrup first so that it has plenty of time to get flavorful. You can also prepare it ahead of time and store in a clean mason jar. Add several slices of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, orange zest and a few tablespoons of orange juice to maple syrup in a small pot. Let it steep over low heat at least 15 minutes, or longer for a more intense flavor. Ginger can taste a little spicy to sensitive palates, so feel free to cut back for your preferences!

After the ginger and cinnamon stick have done their work, turn off the heat. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer.

Transfer the strained syrup back to the pot and whisk in a very small pinch of salt and a tablespoon of cold butter. Any leftover Ginger Orange Syrup can be stored in the fridge; simply warm again before serving.

The sausages will take 15 - 20 minutes, giving you a chance to make the pancakes in the meantime. Simply place the sausage links in a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. You don't need to add any oil to the skillet. 

Turning often, cook the sausages until they are opaque and beginning to brown. Once the sausages get some color, I add a splash of water to release any browned bits from the pan. The water will evaporate pretty quickly and the sausages can then continue to brown.

Continue cooking until browned all over. Depending on your timing, you may want to transfer these to an oven preheated to 200°F to keep warm until you're ready to serve.

Now for the pancakes! In a medium sized bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder and baking soda. I use the scoop and sweep method to measure flour accurately. Use your scoop to stir up the flour in your bag, then scoop out flour into a measuring cup until it's heaping full. Level it off and add the measured flour to your bowl.

Add the mashed sweet potato, melted butter, vanilla, brown sugar, salt, spices, and buttermilk.

Blend until smooth, then taste test to adjust any seasonings if necessary. Sweet potatoes vary widely, and you'll want to make sure the batter tastes great before adding eggs. Once done, add the egg (or 2 eggs, if you've doubled the recipe like I did here!) Blend on high speed for a couple minutes until smooth and slightly frothy.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, gently whisking to incorporate the flour. There will be some lumps.

The batter should be pourable. If it's not, add a bit more buttermilk being careful not to overmix.

I made this batter slightly thinner than I usually do for pancakes because I wanted to make sure they were flexible enough to wrap around the sausage. The batter can sit for 5 minutes while you preheat your griddle.

The griddle is hot when water dropped onto the skillet rolls into little balls and bounces off the skillet. If it immediately sizzles and evaporates, the skillet is too hot. If it stays wet on the skillet, it's much too cool. I like to use coconut oil to grease my skillet because it's great for high temps and the slightly sweet flavor compliments things. If you use butter, just be mindful of your heat because it'll burn a little faster.

I like to do one test pancake first just to make sure I'm looking good. It's your way to know if you need to make any adjustments to your batter or griddle temperature. This one was just a tad too thick so I thinned out my batter a bit more before proceeding.

For consistent sizing, pour pancakes using a ladle or spoon that measures approximately 2 tablespoons. Even though they're small, leave room for them to spread a bit as they cook.

After a couple minutes, flip the pancakes once air bubbles appear. Cook another minute or so until the edges are dry.

Transfer the pancakes to a foil lined baking sheet as they're cooked. You can keep them warm in an oven preheated to 200°F. In between batches, be sure to let your griddle get hot again and grease it as needed.

To put the "pigs" in their "blankets" simply wrap a pancake around each sausage link; securing with a toothpick or skewer where the pancake overlaps. This is easiest to do with warm pancakes because they'll be softer and more flexible.

It was a little tricky the first time figuring out how to pin these together but you'll find the right spot to make everything stay in place!

Once the sausages are all wrapped up, dust with a little powdered sugar and transfer to your serving platter! I served the Ginger Orange Syrup in tiny mason jars for dipping or pouring.

Yum. I couldn't wait to grab a couple of these and pretend to be a kid again!

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