When a birthday rolls around, there’s an occasion to build a culinary creation that you’d never normally eat. One that’s unique enough to surprise the guest of honor, and one that’s just greasy enough to make you feel a little naughty when taking a bite. After all, what fun is it if you can’t indulge on your birthday? So to celebrate Lucas’s birthday with a meal that goes all out, I made a play on the comforting soul food dish, chicken and waffles. If delicious with fried chicken, waffles would surely taste even better with crispy bacon…because, well, they’re both served for breakfast and we now know that bacon pairs beautifully with just about anything. Plus, Lucas never met a strip of bacon he didn’t like, so it felt like a natural birthday meal theme. Now if only I could have found bacon streamers, balloons, and bouquets…
When he walked in and saw our landlady’s waffle maker on the counter, Lucas giddily exclaimed that he knew what on the menu: chicken and waffles. When I plated the crispy, juicy, sweet, and salty cheddar cornmeal waffle BLTA, he professed that I’d one-upped his expectations. I grew up on BLTs; in fact, my dad wanted it put on record that he didn’t just feed us milkshakes and popcorn when mom was out of town, but he also made a pretty badass BLT. True story. Swapping out bread for cheddar waffles, this BLTA (a for avocado) is unlike one I’ve ever eaten before. Even though your thighs probably wouldn’t be too happy if you ate this sandwich everyday, it’s a pretty mind-blowing combination to savor every once in a while. One that I’m sure my dad, BLT maker extraordinaire, is definitely drooling over right now (along with you and all of my other bacon-lovin’ friends…Zach, I’m looking at you).
Imagine biting down into a sweet and savory fluffy waffle with a salty crunch from perfectly oven-baked bacon. The tomatoes’ sweet, sour, and savory balance perfectly melds the seemingly opposing components, making every bite expose layers of complementary flavors you never thought possible. Now that I know waffles can taste this good, I’m lucky I don’t own a waffle iron or we’d eat this sinful special occasion sandwich way too often. For now, I’ll spend my time dreaming up new waffle sandwich combinations. Maybe next time I’ll make a chocolate ganache and crispy bacon filled sweet waffle? Hungry yet? Thought so. Now go dust off the waffle maker and treat yourself to this strangely yummy sandwich.
Cheddar cornmeal waffle BLTAs (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Serves 3-4 (depending on the size of your waffle iron)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 6-8 slices thick applewood smoked bacon
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
- 4 leaves of lettuce
- 2 avocado, mashed
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the bacon on a wire rack over the baking sheet so they aren’t touching. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until crispy.
- Preheat the waffle maker. Reduce oven temperature to 200ºF.
- Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and sugar in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, milk, and butter.
- Add the egg and butter mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Fold in the grated cheese.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until just stiff. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
- Pour about 2/3 cup of batter into the waffle iron (more or less depending on the size of your waffle maker).
- Cook until no steam emerges from the waffle maker.
- Transfer the cooked waffles to the warm oven while you cook the rest of the waffles.
- Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the avocado mash on the bottom piece of each waffle sandwich. Spread about ½ tablespoon of mayonnaise on the top piece of each waffle sandwich. Layer tomato slices, bacon, and lettuce in between the two prepared waffles and serve.