Grits & Bits Waffles
This old Georgia dish has long been one of the most popular items on the Zingerman’s Roadhouse brunch menu. The story is that the Dutch brought waffle irons here with them and that as they moved south from Manhattan they began to blend the local leftover grits that were so common into their waffles to make breakfast the next morning.
The dish really isn’t very hard to make, but by bringing together the flavors of wheat, corn, bacon and maple syrup you really get a great, unique way to start the day. As always I’ll recommend the Anson Mills grits, though other artisan offerings will also serve you well. The key is that the grits add flavor as well as texture to the dish. If you’re into sorghum or cane syrups, you could certainly use either one instead of the maple. When it comes to the bacon, I’d go with one of the dry-cured offerings—Broadbent’s, Edwards’ or Benton’s to stand up to all the other good flavors here.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 2 cups water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup Anson Mills (quick-cooking) grits
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 4 eggs
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 pound sliced bacon (about 8 to 12 slices), cooked and coarsely chopped
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar (I’d recommend a nice two-year-old white cheddar like the one we get from Grafton Village in Vermont), shredded
- Maple syrup and butter to taste for serving
- 1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder and set aside.
- 2. In a saucepot, bring the water and butter to a simmer. Before the water comes to a boil start adding the grits, stirring steadily until incorporated. Add the salt and stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed.
- 3. While the grits are cooking, separate the eggs. Set the yolks aside in a dish, and refrigerate the whites.
- 4. When the grits are done (you can always cook them longer than half an hour—they’ll continue to get creamier the longer you cook them), remove them from the heat; transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool to 110°F. Stir the egg yolks into the grits one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- 5. Add the milk and mix well.
- 6. Add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
- 7. Beat the cold egg whites in a mixer or with a hand beater to medium peaks. Gently fold the whites into the batter and mix gently. Chill for at least 1 hour prior to cooking. (Note: the batter can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start cooking.)
- 8. When you’re ready to eat, pour the batter into a preheated and well-oiled Belgian-style waffle iron, and add a generous bit of chopped bacon and shredded cheddar. (We use 1 cup of batter with ¼ cup each of bacon and cheddar.) Close the waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Remove the waffles from the iron and place on warm plates. Sprinkle more chopped bacon and shredded cheddar over the top of the waffles. Serve with good butter and real maple syrup.
- 9. Repeat until all the batter, chopped bacon and grated cheddar have been used.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish.