Novel waffles

Original or extra crispy? Or with cheesy green chili chicken?

click to enlarge Cornmeal waffles with green chili chicken. - PHOTO BY ASHLEY MEYER.
Photo by Ashley Meyer.
Cornmeal waffles with green chili chicken.

n the 150 years since the first waffle iron was patented, waffles have become a mainstay on American breakfast tables. Originally introduced to this country in the late 1600s by Dutch colonists, the very first waffle irons were two hinged plates at the end of long handles called reins that facilitated cooking over an open hearth. The first electric version was produced by Simplex in 1906 and featured exposed electrical contacts – this iron predated any appliance safety regulations and was likely a perilous device to use. It would take another two decades before irons that were suitable for home use became commercially available and they quickly became a popular household item.

Now with the addition of nonstick surface technology, home cooks are able to crank out delicious, crispy waffles more easily than ever. While fluffy Belgian waffles seem to be the most common option found on restaurant menus, I grew up in a family that adamantly favored the thin and crispy variety. My grandmother was famous among her friends for putting on big waffle breakfasts and over years of scouring garage sales she accumulated an arsenal of crispy-style waffle irons so she could crank out dozens at a time.

Given the popularity of Belgian waffles, it can be a little tricky to find a crispy-style waffle maker, but I have been pleased with the Cuisinart classic round waffle maker gifted to me some years ago. Its slim design fits neatly into a cupboard and it easily sets up right on the breakfast table. It heats and cooks pretty quickly and, at just under $30, is an affordable addition to the kitchen. No matter which style of iron you own, these waffle recipes are sure to become family favorites.

Overnight waffles

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, cut into small cubes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Warm milk and butter over medium-low heat or in microwave just until butter melts. Cool to 110 degrees. This will take about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk dry ingredients in large bowl to combine. Gradually mix warm milk/butter mixture into dry ingredients with whisk or mixing fork; continue to mix until batter is smooth. In a small bowl, stir eggs and vanilla together, then add egg mixture to batter and mix until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.

Next day, take the batter out of the fridge. It will be foamy and about doubled in size. Give it a stir to deflate, then bake waffles according to the instructions on your waffle maker. 

Extra crispy club soda waffles

Ingredients
Two cups all-purpose biscuit mix (recipe below or use your favorite brand)
2 eggs
½ cup canola or other neutral oil
1 cup club soda

Preparation

Preheat your waffle maker. In a large bowl combine the biscuit mix, eggs and canola oil. Add the club soda and mix until just combined. Cook in a hot waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.

All-purpose baking mix

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour (or use a mixture of whole wheat)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cold butter and cut it into the mixture using a fork or pastry cutter, or pulse briefly in the food processor until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Store in the fridge for one week or in the freezer for several months. Ideal for making pancakes, waffles, scones, biscuits or cobblers.

Cornmeal waffles topped with cheesy green chili chicken

For the waffles:
1 ¾ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup minced green onions
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and smoked paprika

Preparation

Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter. In a mixing bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, green onions and spices. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until just combined. Cook according to the instructions on your waffle maker. Serve immediately, topped with the chili chicken mixture, or cool on a rack and reheat in a preheated 350-degree oven for 5 minutes.

For the cheesy green chili chicken:
1 green pepper (or use a poblano or hatch chili for a spicy kick)
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cooked shredded chicken (or use sautéed mushrooms for a veggie option)
1 cup frozen corn kernels (or cut off a freshly cooked cob)
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Salt to taste
Minced green onion for garnish

Preparation

Roast the pepper over an open gas flame until charred. Put in a paper bag and close it up to allow them to steam. When cool enough to handle, removed the charred skin, remove the seeds and pith, and roughly chop. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat add the butter. When it is hot and foamy, add the garlic and cook until it just sizzles, then add the flour. Stir until the mixture resembles a paste, then add the chicken stock. Cook until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, then reduce heat and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine. Use as a topping for the crispy cornmeal waffles above, or serve with tortilla chips.

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