Batter Up

Recipe and photos by Brandon Matzek

Waffles are trending hard in the foodie scene right now. Historically sweet, iron-pressed and drenched in maple syrup, these patterned pretties have broken free of their breakfast mold. These days, they're often found sitting beneath a mound of crunchy fried chicken or in sandwich form with a variety of sweet and/or savory fillings inside.

Simple buttermilk waffles are perfect for a casual morning meal, but a special occasion, like a Holiday breakfast or cocktail party, demands something special. These Savory Waffles with Rosemary, Ham and Dubliner Cheese rise to the occasion.

The recipe starts with a buttermilk batter spiked with Dubliner cheese and chopped, fresh rosemary. (Similar to mature cheddar, Dubliner cheese has a complex flavor with sweet, nutty tones and a sharp bite like that of Parmesan.) The batter is scooped onto a hot waffle iron; dotted with cubes of salty, smoked ham; and then pressed until golden brown. The finished waffle needs just a drizzle of maple syrup to create a perfectly sweet, salty, savory bite.

Dubliner cheese can be found at most grocery stores and Costco (Kerrygold brand). Also, be sure to use fresh rosemary here - dried just won't do.

Savory Waffles with Rosemary, Ham and Dubliner Cheese

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1 1/2 tsps. fine grain sea salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (be sure to shake the carton before pouring and measuring)
4 tsps. butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for brushing
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup (3.5 ounces) coarsely grated Kerrygold Dubliner cheese
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 lbs. (4 ounces) black forest ham, diced*
Maple syrup, for serving

Process
In the mix. Add flour, baking powder and sea salt to a large bowl, whisking to combine and aerate. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, butter, eggs and egg yolk, mixing until just combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Don't overmix here. It's ok to have lumps, but make sure any large patches of flour are mixed in. Stir in Dubliner cheese and rosemary, and then let the batter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Press and serve. Preheat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. Brush the top and bottom plates lightly with melted butter to keep the waffles from sticking. Scoop 1/2 cup of batter into each well**, and, using a spatula, spread the batter out to the corners. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of diced ham over each well, close the waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Enjoy immediately with maple syrup. If making waffles for a crowd, prepare them in batches and keep them warm in a 250°F oven until ready to serve.

* Instead of purchasing pre-sliced Black Forest ham, ask for a 1/4- inch to 1/2-inch ham steak at the deli counter. Thicker steaks are easier to dice, and the resulting ham chunks have a better texture inside the waffles.

** Waffle irons can vary greatly. The one I used here makes 4 square waffles. Adjust the batter and ham measurements accordingly.

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