When I moved away from home I had my clothes, some books, a futon and a bureau. Soon thereafter my mom and sister gave me a Wustof chef’s knife and Joy of Cooking.
For years I have used this book as my cooking bible. I swear you can cook anything by following the recipes and techniques. I have been meaning to try the bacon cornmeal waffles recipe since I first read about them. Today, when I ruffle the stained pages of the book it naturally falls open to this page.
This morning I meant to have my waffles! At the farmer’s market Tierra Farm had stoneground Hopi blue cornmeal and I snatched it up. I love the blue cornmeal and piñon pancake mix found in my beloved Santa Fe and have been wanting to make them at home in San Francisco. But first, after a stupid wait of 27 years I was going to make those waffles!
I was lucky enough to meet Stephen of Damnfinebacon fame and had stashed away a pound of his delicious bacon in the freezer for a special occasion. My special occasion was Sunday brunch at the Roost.
This recipe is ridiculously easy and one doesn’t even need a mixer like most waffle recipes. I measured out the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a sieve over a mixing bowl.
I stirred in the gorgeous blue cornmeal. Such a pretty color, isn’t it? I’m convinced blue cornmeal tastes better than yellow. This meal is from a heritage strain of Hopi corn, which is especially poignant for me to use after having the privilege of watching a pow wow in Berkeley yesterday. It was so moving and powerful, I love hearing the joy and sorrow in their drumming and singing.
I measured out the bacon fat and melted it. I love that the recipe says not to worry about the amount of fat, as it will be absorbed into the waffle. Well, okay!
While the waffle iron was heating up I beat the eggs and added the milk. Meanwhile, I made a Moka pot of espresso from La Paz beans from La Victoria. This coffee is divine stuff and has all the feel-good qualities I like: sustainable, fair trade and supports a village. Everything was in place for brunch.
I combined the wet and dry ingredients together “in a few swift strokes”, one of my favorite instructions in this beloved book, and ladled the batter onto the well greased waffle iron. Then I laid the bacon strips on top. Down went the lid and I watched the iron as it billowed out vast clouds of steam and bacony perfume.
For these waffles I set the iron to its maximum browning setting of 7. A few minutes later it beeped (yay, Waffletone!) and out popped a gorgeous bacon blue cornmeal waffle!
Slathered with butter and drenched in thick, hot maple syrup this gorgeous waffle was so ready for my fork and knife.
The first bite and I was in heaven. Despite the cornmeal one would think the waffle would be heavy and dense, but it was light, crisp, just this edge of savory with a nice crunch between the teeth from the cornmeal then the rich meaty bacon – wow. I am kicking myself for waiting so long to make these.
Guess who suddenly appeared, whiskers twitching. No, I’m not sharing.
The brilliance of Stephen’s charcuterie skills shows in this bacon: the whiff of smoke, a zing of black pepper and the faintest tinge of clove in each bite. Bacon is love on a plate. These waffles cry out for a side of bacon too, but perhaps next time. I am thinking these would be great for dinner on a chilly fall night.
Damnfine Bacon Blue Cornmeal Waffles
7/8 cups all purpose flour or 1 cup of cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup blue cornmeal (or yellow)
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 c bacon fat (or butter), melted
9 strips of thinly sliced Damnfinebacon (or any good quality bacon)
Oil, for greasing the waffle iron
Butter and hot maple syrup
In a small bowl sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Stir in the cornmeal.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk and mix well.
Heat the waffle iron. When the iron is hot, mix together the egg mixture, the flour/cornmeal mixture and the melted fat together “in a few swift strokes”.
Oil the waffle iron well and pour the batter on, then lay the bacon strips on top. If needed you can halve or trim the bacon. For my Belgian waffle iron I highly recommend three strips of bacon and they fit perfectly. Close the lid of the iron and don’t open it until the clouds of steam diminish and the iron opens easily. Don’t rush the waffles! If it sticks just wait until the waffle browns a little more.
Makes 6 Belgian waffles, although your waffle iron may make a different quantity.
Eat with a smear of butter and plenty of maple syrup or honey and copious amounts of hot coffee. And ignore the cat.
Recipe from Joy of Cooking