Southern Food from the Iron

Southern style breakfasts are not light. They are, however, fantastic and filled with amazing flavors. Juicy peaches covered by flakey pastry in cobblers. Thick-cut bacon resting alongside creamy grits and eggs. And let's not forget biscuits and sausage gravy. Actually, let's consider a twist on that last one:

That, my friends, is a cheddar waffle smothered in peppery sausage gravy. Let's begin with a look at the waffles. Now, I enjoy biscuits as much as the next person, but are you really going to argue that a waffle brimming with sharp cheddar that's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside isn't going to be a little bite of heaven? Since making these, I've found several excuses to make waffles for dinner as well as breakfast. They pair beautifully with the gravy outlined below, but aren't limited to that. Just about any sauce you'd put on pasta could find its way onto one of these lovelies. Here's the recipe:

Cheddar Waffles

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 T. plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ c. finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ c. butter, melted and cooled
  • Cooking spray for the waffle iron

Preheat your waffle iron.

Add the flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and black pepper to a large bowl and whisk well.

In another bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, and egg and whisk together. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the cheese and mix until well incorporated. Stir in the cooled butter gently.

Spray the waffle iron with cooking spray and cook according to the manufacturer instructions.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Now, it's not really Southern-style cooking unless we get some peppery sausage gravy in the mix. Many traditional recipes call for all-purpose flour, but I prefer cornstarch as you can use less and it doesn't get as lumpy as flour can. Get the variety of sausage you like best. My family tends to opt for a medium-hot variety and let the cheese in the waffles put out any fires that might start!

Sausage Gravy

  • 1 lb. pork breakfast sausage
  • ¼ c. cornstarch
  • 4 c. milk
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2-4 tsp. black pepper, to taste

Break the sausage into pieces and add it in a single layer to a large, heavy skillet. Brown the sausage over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Sprinkle on half the cornstarch and stir so that the sausage soaks it all up, then add a little more until just before the sausage looks too dry. Stir it around and cook it for another minute or so, then pour in the milk, stirring constantly.

Cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens. Sprinkle in the smoked paprika and black pepper and continue cooking until very thick. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving with savory waffles or biscuits.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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