Waffles want for cured pork like my kids want for soap: as undeniably sweet and delicious as they may be au naturelle, they’re immeasurably improved by the right sort of garnish. I say this with some confidence, not only because I know what my kids smell like after they’ve talked me out of one too many baths in a row, but because none other than than Sonoma County’s own Prince and Princess of Pork, and the High Priestess of BiteClub herself, have a publicized habit of serving up bacon-in-the-batter waffles for brunch. And since we here in the Proximal Kitchen remain firmly entrenched in the “if some is good, more is better” camp, I got to thinking: what other salty bits of Wilbur might flatter the sweetness of the all-American waffle?
We could split hairs over whether it’s the added crunch or hint of smoke that makes bacon such a loving plate-mate to a waffle but, for me, the drool-worthy duo has its roots in the vaguely trashy, salty-sweet, unapologetically guilty pleasure of breakfast meat slathered in syrup; indeed, it’s hard for me to think of a form of pork, particularly but by no means exclusively of the cured variety, that wouldn’t play nice with the nutty, honeyed richness of the sap of the sugar maple… and, given that, why stop at bacon-in-the-batter?
Life has taught me that, given a chance, luck almost always betters skill, at least in the short run, and thus it was pure happenstance that we had a slug of Palacios Chorizo Picante lying about. I love chorizo made in the classic Spanish style, dry cured with loads of smoky paprika and garlic, with just the right amount of heat and a dense, chewy texture that I thought would hold its ground against the steamy interior of a waffle in situ.
As long as we’re on the salty-sweet-breakfast train, why not make the batter with cornmeal, because what’s better with honey and butter than a golden brown crusty wedge of griddled cornbread? And finally, because it’s almost always better to regret something you’ve done than something you haven’t, let’s gild the lily with a fat handful of tangy goat’s milk cheddar from local fave Redwood Hill Farm, because goat’s milk cheeses kick ass with with smoky sausage and cornbread, because cheese bubbling and frying in a waffle iron makes for a sinful crunch along the pasty’s leading edge, and because my kids have even milked the goats…
Chorizo-Cheddar Cornmeal Waffles
Note: Like all pancake-style batters, you can make it at the last minute, but it will be far better if it rests. Particularly if you like a courser grind of cornmeal, the extra resting time gives the grain time to soak up the liquid; we will often do it the night before and rest in the fridge to simplify and speed up a hangover/kiddie cure in the AM – just be sure to tell the kids to take it out an hour before they get you up.
1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 really fresh eggs, beaten (preferably from a local farmer like Rian at Wyeth Acres)
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled, plus a little extra to grease the iron
2 cups milk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (preferably from Sonoma County goats!)
1 cup small-dice dry cured chorizo sausage (you can find Palacios at Traverso’s in SR and The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg)
Set up your waffle iron around medium high. Don’t forget a spritz of oil. Melt butter, set aside. Beat milk and eggs together, set aside. (See ahead-of-time note on resting batter, above.)
Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl (don’t try to sift the cornmeal – mix that in after). Pour wet mixture into dry and combine with a few brisk strokes – don’t overwork it. Incorporate diced chorizo and grated cheese in to the batter.
Ladle enough batter (it’s impossible to say – depends on the size of your iron) to just fill the bottom tray and barely cover the ‘studs’ of the iron. Cook until steam slows from the iron and the waffles are crisp and golden-brown; probably 5 minutes, or thereabouts. (You can test one square first if you’re not sure – and better to wait too long, lest you wreck the iron.)
Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup. Ideally, make a compound butter out of goat’s milk butter and dark syrup in advance, cut into discs, and serve on top.
If you want a really hearty meal, a gently fried egg makes a great side.