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Heirloom Cornbread Waffles with Roasted Strawberry Compote

Heirloom Cornbread Waffles with Roasted Strawberry Compote.

Beautiful summer brunch special running at the Roadhouse right now

If you’re thinking of going out for brunch, give some thought to swinging by the Roadhouse Saturday or Sunday for delicious cornbread waffles. This dish will only be on the menu for the next two weekends while the local berries are at their best!

Sous chef Jess Forbes came up with the idea for a cornbread waffles special offering while poking around old recipes from Kentucky. Roasting strawberries is a technique that dates back centuries. It’s a wonderful way to intensify the flavors of already really fine fresh fruit. New York chef and author Tom Colicchio wrote in the New York Times, “[I] love what roasting does to ripe summer fruit. It may seem greedy to improve on nature now, but that is exactly what roasting does.” After being washed and hulled, the berries are slow-roasted with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a good bit of the sorghum syrup we get from Muddy Pond mill in Tennessee.

If you don’t know sorghum syrup, in the moment I’ll just say, it’s the “syrup of the Middle South”—up here we have maple syrup, further south, folks have used cane syrup for centuries, but in Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, etc., it’s all about the sorghum. Dark like molasses but with a complex, bittersweet flavor all its own, sorghum is great on pancakes, biscuits, or in this case, in the Roasted Strawberry Compote.

The seasonal strawberries are certainly the featured item on this dish, but don’t overlook the cornmeal. It’s just as the best locally milled “meal” would have tasted about 200 years ago. We get it from Anson Mills—the same folks from whom we source those amazing grits, Carolina Gold rice, and a host of other terrific traditionally grown heirloom grains! Aside from being harder to grow, heirlooms like this generally yield only about 20 percent at best of what you get out of commercial corn.

Right now Anson’s meal is made from four old varietals: Leaming, John Haulk, Jarvis, and Hickory King Yellow. All four are “dent corns” (which are softer in texture than the alternative, known as “flint corn”). Like everything we get from Anson Mills, the corn is grown organically, field-dried, and stone ground. Because, like all Anson products, it has the germ left in (which makes it way more flavorful) it has to be refrigerated.

The old corn varietals used here are wonderfully aromatic and complex in their flavors. Glenn Roberts, the man who got Anson Mills going a little over 20 years ago, says, “Great corn is like great wine,” and this stuff proves the point. “Cornmeal” may sound mundane on the surface but seriously, it’s super delicious. It’s so flavorful. Floral is the key word for me. We use the corneal for the Spider Bread at the Roadhouse on Tuesday evenings and also on the whole catfish.

By making this recipe with the cornmeal and organic Carolina Gold rice flour (also from Anson Mills, it’s what we use for the Gluten-Free Fried Chicken), Jess kept the Cornbread Waffles wheat-free! The delicate delicious floral flavors of the cornmeal get a bit of caramelization as they are cooked up in the waffle iron. And then, while they’re still hot, they get topped with that wonderful, complexly flavored compote! Swing by soon, while the strawberries are still in season and score these super tasty waffles!

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P.S. The Roadhouse has been getting great response to its Texas Breakfast Tacos catered for morning meetings and get-togethers of all sorts. Email [email protected] if you’re interested!

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