A New World of Waffledom

Last March, when I was in Los Angeles for a wedding, I had a weekend full of waffles, all of them sweet. My favorite came from Charlie’s Coffee Shop in the old Farmer’s Market. Their booth is right near Gate 4 off of Fairfax Avenue and their waffles come with a big ol’ hunk of real butter and—upon request—a pitcher of real maple syrup. The waffle I got from Swingers Diner (below the Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel at the corner of Beverly and Laurel) wasn’t quite as good as Charlie’s. The diner itself is a nice place, though, with real pizzazz, and a great choice if you’re in the mood for a brownie a la mode and a cup of joe.

Swingers Diner in LA, CA

While we (Aurora, our friend Rebekah, and I) were eating dinner in Swingers one night and I didn’t order a waffle, they started giving me a hard time about it. “I’m surprised you didn’t order that sandwich to be made between two waffles,” Rebekah laughed, which led to a discussion about the unexplored possibilities of waffledom: savory waffles!

Because, really, what’s to dictate that waffles have to be a sweet treat served with syrup? Yeah, they’re tasty like that, but why not serve them with vegetables and savory sauces? I thought I was on to something completely new and different. Turns out, I was just resurrecting a concept that’s been dormant for years (perhaps since the Depression). According to The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion, “In the 1930’s, waffle suppers consisting of waffles with a savory topping—most often creamed chicken—were standard entertainment. They enjoyed a particularly favored place in the Franklin Roosevelt White House, whose thrifty head housekeeper saw them as an economical way to entertain heads of state” (12). Of course, I didn’t know that when I set about to create my own savory waffle dinners, which made my work all the more fun and exciting.

My first foray into Savory Waffledom was a dinner for two comprised of four different types of waffles: three savory (dill waffle with cream cheese sauce, black pepper waffle with buffalo demi-glaze, and pork sausage waffle with roasted carrots and leeks), with a ginger waffle topped with peach caramel sauce for dessert.

Of the first three savory waffles, the black pepper waffle was the clear winner, though it seemed somewhat like a souped-up version of biscuits and gravy. The dill waffle was passable, though my taster thought the sauce was somewhat too rich (exact quote,”what, are you trying to do, kill me?!”). The pork sausage waffle had decent flavor, but fell flat because there was no sauce accompanying it. It was just too dry.

My next savory waffle dinner was for a wider audience: Tomato Waffles with Cauliflower Curry Sauce as dinner for five. I added the tomato flavor to the waffles by caramelizing tomato paste in a skillet with fine-brunoise-cut onions and carrots (a preparation known as a pincage) and added it to the milk in the waffle recipe. To make a pincage, you must stir the tomato paste constantly, occasionally deglazing the pan with a bit of water to keep any of the tomato paste from scorching on the bottom of the pan. It’s a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it because it develops the tomato paste’s flavor and makes it taste less like the processed tomato product that it is. In the end, though, it wasn’t quite enough tomato; my tasters recommended adding sun-dried tomatoes to the batter next time I make them. The curried-cauliflower sauce relied on reduced beer and water for its liquid component and wasn’t quite clingy enough, though it had good flavor. Tasters recommended that I add some yogurt to it next time for richness and texture. I’m looking forward to implementing these suggestions sometime soon.

For my most recent batch of savory waffles, I capitalized on lessons learned during my first two attempts. I went back to the idea of topping the waffle with pan-roasted vegetables (julienne-cut carrots and onions), but added a thick and clingy mustard sauce to the mix. The resulting dish was taste perfection.

Savory waffle with onions, carrots, and mustard sauce

To make a savory waffle, all you really have to do is to cut the sugar out of a regular waffle recipe and add some spices that make sense with your topping. It’s okay to add a little more salt to the recipe than you would otherwise, but not too much, because the presence of salt inhibits the beaten egg whites’ ability to hold air (and they’re the source of a properly-made waffle’s light-and-fluffy texture). My general recipe follows below.

Savory Waffles:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2-2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup oil

Combine all dry ingredients and mix to evenly distribute through mix (by shaking in tightly closed container or by sifting together).

Beat together egg yolks, milk, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients with a fork until the dry ingredients are moistened but the batter is still lumpy.

Beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, but stop beating them before they turn dry and brittle. As they approach stiffness, stop beating every so often and pull the beater out of the whites. If the peaks hold, you’re there: stop. If they still flop over, keep beating a bit longer.

Fold the batter into the beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula, using a twisting motion with your wrist to bring the contents from the bottom of the bowl up and over to the top. Be careful not to stir the mixture because that will lead to your egg whites deflating, causing a more runny texture to your batter than is ideal. Continue until the batter has uniform consistency.

Cook the batter on your waffle iron for about 5-7 minutes, or according to manufacturer’s directions.

Mustard Sauce:

1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup prepared spicy mustard
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish sauce
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup cream
1/2 stick butter, cut into small cubes

Put white wine in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and let boil until reduced almost all the way. Meanwhile, stir together mustard, horseradish, and chicken or vegetable stock. Whisk into reduced wine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, let simmer 15-20 minutes or until thick and bubbly all over.

Whisk in cream. Let return to a simmer. Turn heat off and whisk in cubes of butter until combined.

Stir-fried Vegetables

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 onions, cut julienne
2-3 carrots, cut julienne or shaved
2 ribs celery, cut julienne
4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
powdered ginger to taste

Melt butter in large saute pan. Add pepper and ginger. Add onions and a bit of salt, toss to combine with butter and spices, turn heat to very low and cover. Let onions sweat for 10-15 minutes or until they have released their liquid. Remove cover and turn heat to medium-high. Stir onions often as they caramelize; they’ll leave a bit of fond on the bottomn of the pan. Add a couple tablespoons of water to deglaze as necessary, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to remove the fond as you deglaze.

Once the onions have caramelized, add carrots, celery, and garlic, along with a touch more salt and pepper if desired. Turn heat to high and stir vegetables constantly until they’re cooked.

Serve over savory waffles and accompany with mustard sauce.

14 Responses to “A New World of Waffledom”

  1. kari Says:

    growing up my dad was a champion waffle maker. our two favorite kinds were waffles with diced pears in them, and with crumbled bacon in them. awfully simple to make but so very tasty and delicious with lots of butter (and yes, real maple syrup).

  2. justin Says:

    not quite a savory waffle..well not at all a savory waffle, but i’ve enjoyed the fried chicken and waffle breakfast at Robin’s on Canal Street in New Orleans. They’ve remained closed since the storm, but the work crew gutting the interior hasn’t taken down the sign or the window marquee, so i can only hope that points to Robin’s intent to reopen.

  3. Steff Z Says:

    Just 2 weeks ago I finally experimented with the savory waffles I’d been planning for ages. I wanted easy breakfast food to go, but I hate sweet breakfasts. The frozen breakfast section in the grocery store has a zillion doctored-up sweet waffles (with berries, apples, chocolate chips), but nothing, you know, *hearty.* For some reason I can’t face the typical breakfast sugar load before I’m completely awake (lucky me: heart attack instead of diabetes.)

    I made a batch with 2 cups of flour and 2 eggs, which made almost 4 of the big 2×2 square waffles (that’s 15 waffle subunits), but before cooking I folded in some extras:

    4 strips of bacon, crumbled
    1/4 cup pepper jack cheese, in 1/4″ (5mm) dice
    saute’ed veggies (to ward off that heart attack):
    diced red peppers
    chopped fresh spinach
    and I remembered to count the saute’ing butter as part of the oil

    Except for pepper (and did I put in some cayenne?), it didn’t seem to want any spices. (Any ideas, anyone?)

    They seemed to take a long time to cook — I haven’t cooked plain waffles in a while so I’m not sure. Rombauer and Becker says, four minutes, and these took at least 8. (Maybe the waffle iron is old and tired.)
    They taste great, and are perfect when racing to catch the bus, thawed and toasted in the toaster oven, 2 weeks later. So they freeze well. One subunit is just about the right size for running off to work, although if I were sitting down to brunch I’d want 2 or maybe even 3.

    Next time I’d put in about 6 strips of bacon, instead; otherwise, an entirely successful experiment.

  4. Paul Says:

    Does peanut butter count as savory? or sweet? or something else?

    My wife has enjoyed waffles with peanut butter ever since I’ve known her.

  5. Rebekah Says:

    Wow, it sure would have been nice to have some turkey and cranberry waffles over Thanksgiving. It’s a shame someone had to fall down and break his lankle. How nice for you now in January, and all your “taste perfection…” Whatever.

  6. Truly Guilty Pleasure at Faux Real Tho! Says:

    [...] UPDATE: Chef has a friend in Corduroy Orange. [...]

  7. Rachel Says:

    I have made some savory waffles from Dorie Greenspan’s book. I enjoyed them but my husband prefers the sweet variety. I did find the savory to be more work.

  8. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » National Waffle Day: August 24 Says:

    [...] Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, NY received his patent on August 24, 1869—but that’s not to say that he invented the waffle or even the first waffle iron.  Mr. Breakfast has a wonderful history of waffles included on his description of National Waffle Day.  And while you’re at it, check out his 10 tips for making perfect waffles, all of which are important points.  As far as tip #4 goes (don’t overmix), I feel as if Mr. Breakfast’s description of how to fold the egg whites could use some clarification, so as quoted from my recipe for savory waffles with stir-fried vegetables and mustard sauce, are better how-to hints for making sure you don’t overmix: [...]

  9. Kosher wine Says:

    Kosher wine

    Sideways is about wine and the love of wine – and before your eyelids gently close, it\’s a very funny film indeed.

  10. Michael Says:

    I made my savory waffles with blue cheese and thyme (served with brasied pork). A variation on a popover I made before. Really good.

  11. Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » Help me Find A Wafflemaker! (Please!) Says:

    [...] I love waffles. [...]

  12. Ashley Sue Bullers @AshleySue Says:

    I think it is fantastic that four years after you wrote this, I got (as a wedding gift!) our first waffle maker. I am thrilled, as I can eat waffles all day every day, but my husband is more of a savory, dinner guy more than sweet breakfast. So a Google search, and bam! Thank you for giving all of your goodness and input to give my husband and me faith that we can turn our waffles into something incredibly scrumptious for ANY meal of the day! :D

  13. Plato Says:

    Just stumbled upon this. Nice info. I have been making savory waffles for about over 3 decades now. I make them mostly vegetarian, being from a vegetarian culture. I have experimented with a variety of ings, especially different kinds of flours, both with & without gluten, & some flours not really known to people, only to “foodie geeks” as I call them (the various grains that are not commonly used today, especially in the American food culture, though they are commonly used where I come from). I never thought at that time that this would be such a big deal in the coming years. I am going to get back to actually acurately documenting my recipes so that I can publish them. Thanx for inspiring me.

  14. top waffle maker Says:

    top waffle maker…

    [...]Corduroy Orange » Blog Archive » A New World of Waffledom[...]…

Leave a Reply