In one of my recent two hour browse-and-drool sessions with Tastespotting, I came upon a link to this post from Joy the Baker and its accompanying recipe for brown sugar bacon buttermilk waffles. Yes, you read that right: all of those things ultimately serve as adjectives to modify waffles. Now, I've never been a sucker for the whole bacon craze meme; I haven't sprinkled bacon salt on anything, haven't covered bacon in chocolate, haven't... I don't know, woven anything out of the stuff. Bacon's fine, it's cool. It's meaty and salty and I can't protest that sort of thing, but I am certainly not dedicating my life to its production. But something about this recipe really got me. I mean, I've often enough eaten bacon alongside a waffle, have occasionally mopped up a smudge of errant syrup with the flat side of a slice, why not combine the two officially? It certainly seems streamlined, like the way that the cartoons imagined eating in the future, a tiny pill that contains everything loved and familiar about modern sustenance but in a simpler form. There's something appealing about combining the whole meal into one dish. Something so theoretically cosmopolitan, so easy.
But here's the thing about that line of thinking: it's what gave us casseroles, what gave us one pot meals, what gave us Hamburger Helper for God's sake! Combined does not always mean better. And bacon, however much it is the most fad-alicious of all breakfast meats, is strong stuff. The waffles, after I'd sugar coated and baked and chopped and stirred and pressed and everything else the recipe required, were great!
They were fantastic, actually!
Except for the bacon floating like little fatty depth charges among the ridges and valleys. Every forkful that did not contain a clump of bacon (the bacon, recently candied with brown sugar, stuck together and made it into the finished waffle in crowds instead of shards--this might have been part of the problem) was light and airy and delicious with the slight tang of buttermilk. But every heavy dark baconed forkful I lifted to my mouth unfolded the same way. Here's my thought process every time: this isn't so bad, it's got a little bit of chewiness, a little sweet to go with the maple syrup, a little salt. Oh. A lot of salt. A lot of salt, now, and now every tastebud is overwhelmed and all my fond memories of crisp airy waffles are ruined, stomped into the ground beneath the iron boot of bacon flavor.
Oh, and even six hours later I swear I was still prying bacon-grease candy from my molars. In case you were confused, this is not a pleasant activity.
This is, I readily admit, probably more an issue with my bacon than the recipe itself. A less heavily cured, (ahem...) antique bacon than the one the local grocery store marks down for immediate sale is probably called for here. And I'm sure with a light thin artisanal bacon taken from pigs that had never even seen a fence and cured in the tears of pixies this could be amazing. But that's not what I had and that's not what the recipe called for so I didn't think through the necessity of going fancy on its ass. So here's what I'm going to do next time.
I'm going to take the print-out I have of this recipe and white out everything that says bacon on it. With the result, I'm going to make some of the best waffles I've ever made at home. Waffles that are rich and flavorful enough to stand up to syrup yet light enough to absorb it. And when I'm eating them I'm never going to dread a forkful for its lingering obliteration of my tastebuds, never going to crack a blackened spiderweb of baked brown sugar and bacon grease from a cookie sheet, never going to mistakenly believe that just because something is popular it must be good folded into one of my favorite foods. Well, okay, honestly, I will probably do that last one again and again and never learn but I am definitely going to make some normal waffles before I restart the cycle.
If you don't believe me--and I've always encouraged every new semester's worth of students not to--then you can find the recipe and instructions here:
Get the recipe!
If you find them more palatable, I would love to hear what I did wrong.