Put this recipe at the head of your "To Make" list immediately. It's ideal for brunch, but if you like breakfast for dinner, then this savory waffle recipe will be seriously soul-satisfying. And the best part? Obviously, it's the cheese. Although truly, it's more than just the cheese that makes this recipe so great: there's the slight crunch from some cornmeal in the batter, heat from the sauteed serrano chiles-- an especially great match with cheddar-- and an herbaceous maple syrup that really is unique.
Or you could skip the syrup entirely and treat the waffles almost as you would cornbread, and serve them with creme fraiche or sour cream and cilantro alongside chili, as one friend suggested after her first taste.
However you decide to present them, be sure to cook them long enough, to ensure just a bit of crunchy, caramelized cheese, like the pools that seep from the middle of a grilled cheese and become cracker-like as they sizzle on the griddle. Soul-satisfying, indeed.
Cheddar and Green Chile Waffles with Thyme Maple Syrup
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
3 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups medium cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 ½ cups milk
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 11 ounces)
2 cups maple syrup
2 springs thyme
Nonstick cooking spray
1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add chiles, season with salt, and cook until softened and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Preheat a Belgian waffle iron.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper. Add milk, remaining 2/3 cup olive oil, and eggs, and maple syrup, whisking to combine. Do not overmix; batter may be lumpy. Fold in the cheddar cheese and reserved sauteed chiles. Let batter rest at least 30 minutes at room temperature, and up to one hour.
4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine maple syrup, thyme sprigs, and a pinch of salt. Bring up to a simmer and cook, 3-4 minutes, to infuse syrup. Keep warm.
5. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron and cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes, depending on your iron. Carefully remove waffle from iron and repeat process with remaining batter. Serve immediately with thyme maple syrup.
Related: Craving: Overnight Yeasted Waffles
Nora Singley is an avid lover of cheese, and for some time she was a Cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City, where she continues to teach cheese classes for the public. She is currently an assistant chef on The Martha Stewart Show.
(Images: Nora Singley)