Savory ham, cheddar, and rosemary waffles

Savory waffles are amazingly good and simple breakfast idea.

The Garden of Eating
Savory ham, cheddar, and rosemary waffles make a tasty breakfast meal.

It's been a few years since I subscribed to any food magazines. Back when we lived in Washington, D.C., I subscribed to Food & Wine for a while but ended up dropping it because it read more like Wine & Wine and I was never that into wine. I also had a fling with Cooks Illustrated that lasted for a year or two. Although it was a more fulfilling affair than what I'd had with Wine & Wine, I let it lapse when we moved to California.

After a year or two of living in Berkeley, I signed up for Sunset, which I loved. But I did not love the guilty stacks of paper that continually accumulated in our small apartment. So when we moved back to the East Coast two years ago, I decided to cancel everything (except the New Yorker which does an excellent job of filling our house with partially read magazines destined for the recycling bin all by itself...)

But I kinda miss food magazines. So I usually buy one or two when I fly somewhere. The inspiration for this morning's experiment in decadent deliciousness came from the the March issue of Bon Appetit that I bought when we went to Austin this spring. 

Savory waffles – what an amazingly good, simple idea! And one that had never occurred to me before, even though we make waffles fairly regularly and often add raspberries, peaches or blueberries to them. Duh!

After reading the actual recipe, I decided to leave it at "inspiration" as it seemed a little more complicated than necessary – we just went with the basic waffle recipe that we always use from the Joy of Cooking. My main contribution to this recipe is the fresh rosemary but I think it actually makes a big difference.

I've had a thing for rosemary with ham ever since our butcher back in Berkeley encouraged us to try some Fra' mani rosemary ham that we fell for instantly. Our little butcher shop here in Woodstock does not carry Fra' mani which is not surprising since it's one of these Berkeley-based hand-crafted deals that was started by someone who used to work at Chez Panisse (there are a surprising number of these in the Bay area!) but their site says that Fleishers carries some of their stuff and I spotted some at a Fairway at one point, too, lest you want to try to seek it out. 

But enough about them, back to these waffles! They were easy to make – I just grated some sharp cheddar, chopped up a sprig of fresh rosemary, and cut a couple slices of Applegate Farms ham which is at least hormone- and antibiotic-free.Then I added it all, along with a few grinds of black pepper, to the waffle batter my husband had whipped up.

I'd been a little concerned that the cheese might stick to the waffle iron but my husband, who is the waffle master in our family, reported smooth sailing. Served with real maple syrup, these things make your mouth happy.

We ate them al fresco on the gorgeous live-edged cedar picnic table my husband built for us a few weeks ago. The combination of the crispy waffle, the smoky ham, the sharp, gooey cheese, the fresh, almost piney taste of the rosemary and the sweetness of the maple syrup is just really good! And we made a few extra to freeze for some happy future morning.

Savory Ham, Cheddar and Rosemary Waffles
Makes 8-10 waffles (depending on the size of your iron - this usually makes 9 waffles in our small, round iron)

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt (original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon)
3 free-range, organic eggs (get pasture-raised if you can)
1 stick of butter, melted (original recipes calls for between 1/4 cup and 1 cup but this is what we go with)
1-1/2 cups milk
1/4 - 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2-3 slices of ham, roughly chopped or torn into pieces
large sprig of rosemary, washed, dried, needles removed and chopped
several grinds of fresh black pepper

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix the eggs, butter and milk.Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the cheese, ham, rosemary and black pepper and stir to combine. Be careful not to overmix.

 Cook in a greased waffle iron and serve hot with pure maple syrup (you could put butter on these if you like, it just seems like overkill to me.)

Don't forget that you can freeze any leftovers (or make extra to freeze)! Just let them cool on a wire rack, then put the rack in the freezer for 20 minutes to freeze them all individually, then remove the tray and stack the waffles neatly in a large freezer bag, remove the air before sealing (closing the bag almost all the way and using a straw to suck out the air works wonders for this) and freeze. Eat them within a month or two – just reheat them in a toaster oven for a few minutes – they'll taste great.

Related post on The Garden of Eating: Breakfast Sausage

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