Blue Corn Flapjacks with Prickly Pear Syrup

How Local Food Keeps a Small, Remote Restaurant Growing

Hell’s Backbone Grill- Boulder, UT. Located in south-central Utah in one of the last remaining remote places in the lower 48 states, Hell’s Backbone takes it’s name from a narrow wooden bridge over Box Death Hollow that allowed auto traffic for the first time in 1933.  In a town of 180, more or less, that received it’s first electricity in 1947, and stopped getting it’s mail by mule in 1942, having a flourishing restaurant is an achievement in itself. The challenges are considerable- the closest bank and grocery store are 45 minutes south in Escalante, which is another fairly remote, small town. Planning becomes critical, cooperation and community building is not just a good idea, but is the only way to stay in business.

Despite these challenges, Hell’s Backbone Grill and The Boulder Mountain Lodge, where the Grill is located have had lots of great press from far and wide. Success hasn’t gone to their head, as they are down to earth folks. They partner with local ranchers and community members for food supplies, as well as growing a huge garden to feed the restaurant. All of the food is grown and raised with care, love and tremendous respect, whether by the restaurant or by the community. This comes through in the flavors, which are indescribably delicious. There is a deep, rich fullness to the food that is readily apparent.

Here is a recipe for Blue Corn Flapjacks from their cookbook- “With A Measure Of Grace”. The Prickly Pear syrup is our own homemade syrup.


Blue Corn Flapjacks

3 Cups flour

1 Cup sugar

1 Tbs baking powder

1 Tsp salt

1 Cup blue cornmeal

4 Eggs

3 Cups milk

1/2 Cup oil

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

Oil for griddle


In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cornmeal.

In another bowl lightly beat eggs with milk, oil, and vanilla extract.

Add wet to dry and combine well.

Preheat griddle to medium-hot. A cast iron griddle works best. A drop of water will dance over the griddle when it’s ready. Add 2 Tbs oil to griddle, spread with folded paper towel. Keep towel to grease griddle for next batch of cakes.

Pour from a pitcher or use a ladle to make standard round cakes, or get wacky and make a portrait pancake for each breakfast companion. Turn cake when adges are set and small bubbles form and pop on the surface.

The batter will keep in the fridge for two days.

These are substantial flapjacks, very satisfying and filling. Enjoy them!

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