My husband and I have been whooping it up at a guest ranch in Paradise Valley, Montana for a week every summer for over twenty years. I believe that heaven must look like southwestern Montana in June, when the upland meadows are covered in wild lupines and dog roses, and the lush green mountain trails climb up and up until you can see all the way to Yellowstone. We’ve had little adventures here over the years: battling cutthroat trout in the Madison, galloping up the old logging roads, and two-stepping across the dance floor in a pale imitation of the whirling wranglers and waitresses from the ranch. To be there in the fall is much quieter, but so lovely in its own way. The aspens are golden, and the blackberry bushes have been efficiently stripped of their berries by the bears. The mountains are quiet, waiting for winter. It’s that little breath of Indian summer made more precious by its jewel-like blue skies and brief existence.
The place we’ve always stayed, Mountain Sky, has great riding, fishing and hiking, and the kids’ program is so much fun that you often see the adults tagging along to the kids’ teepee for the s’mores. The food has always been memorable. There is always an early morning breakfast ride to a lovely green meadow, and after an hour or so of moving quietly through the dew-soaked forest on our trusty steeds, we emerge to find an enormous cowboy breakfast waiting for us. The biscuits are fluffy, the bacon is Neuske’s, and the eggs are scrambled over an open fire in a cast iron frying pan that looks as if it could belong to Paul Bunyan. Guests slide off their horses, elated by the breakfast party atmosphere; I’ve never seen so many happy, animated people at eight o’clock in the morning.
A word about Neuske’s: I’m not one of these people who goes through life putting bacon bandages on scraped knees and eating bacon ice cream, but Neuske’s bacon is THE BEST. It is smoky and full of flavor, and the ratio of fat to meat is about 1:3, so it has more protein. I first had Neuske’s at Mountain Sky and was so glad to find their website, because it was always a bit weird to be carrying slabs of bacon back from Bozeman on the plane.
This recipe for souffled pancakes comes from Mountain Sky’s daily breakfast buffet, where a different kind of pancake is offered every day. And the bacon is, of course, Neuske’s thin cut. Happy trails!
By the way, nothing that I write about is written as a compensated endorsement. The opinions expressed are my own.
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 1 cup half and half
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup of flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 egg whites
- Confectioners’ sugar for garnish
- Preheat oven broiler to 400 degrees
- Beat half and half and egg yolks, slowly whisking in the flour, then add melted butter, salt, sugar and vanilla.
- Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until they form soft peaks. Fold whites gently into the batter – don’t overmix and flatten the egg whites.
- Grease an ovenproof pan and heat at medium high heat.
- Pour batter into pan, reducing heat immediately.
- Cook pancake for about five minutes, until batter firms up.
- Put fresh fruit on the top of the pancake.
- Place the pan with the pancake under the broiler for no more than two or three minutes, until pancake puffs up and center is set.