To get back to crowd-pleasing basics when entertaining friends and family this spring, build a brunch, lunch or even a casual dinner menu around golden-brown waffles. They'll make a substantial main dish when piled with succulent, lightly spicy pulled pork shoulder and a bright, piquant salad of maple-dressed tropical fruit.
The waffle recipe below gets extra personality from yellow cornmeal, a dose of smoky molasses and the option to use pork fat in place of butter in the batter. This time of year, it's easy to find ripe mangoes, pineapples and papayas from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and India in many local markets, but feel free to swap in your favorite fruits.
Scrambled eggs or a frittata stuffed with garlicky spring greens should round out the table nicely, as would a Chardonnay, with a full body to stand up to the fat and spice in the pork and juicy fruit, vanilla or smoke notes to complement the dish's flavors. See below for a list of recently well-rated examples from Italy, Oregon, California, Washington, Chile and South Africa.
Cornmeal Waffles with Pulled Pork and Tropical Fruit Salad
For the pork:
- 1 4- to 5-pound boneless Boston butt or pork shoulder, tied
- Salt to taste
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 to 1 cup Frank's Hot Sauce or another mild, tangy hot sauce (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Rub the pork all over with salt, wrap in parchment paper with the seam facing down, and place in a roasting pan. Add the water, cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat is fork-tender and very fragrant.
2. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature, then shred the meat with two forks. Toss with the hot sauce if desired and season with salt to taste.
Note: You may cook the pork a day ahead, hold in refrigerator, then shred, gently reheat in a pan with a splash of water, and season just before serving.
For the waffles:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (you may substitute 1 cup whole milk mixed with 3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup melted and cooled pork fat, butter, coconut oil or vegetable shortening
1. Preheat the oven to 200° F and place a clean cooling rack inside.
2. In large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, molasses, vanilla and pork fat, mixing well so that the eggs are beaten and the fat is evenly distributed.
4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing just enough to combine. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 12 minutes, which will allow the cornmeal to absorb some of the liquid. The mixture will expand slightly in the bowl and form some bubbles. While the mixture sits, preheat the waffle iron.
5. Bake the waffles according to the manufacturer's directions for your waffle iron, using the highest or longest setting possible so that the waffles are extra-crisp. As the hot waffles come off the iron, transfer them to the oven to keep them warm.
For the fruit salad:
- 2 cups diced fresh pineapple (about 1/2 of 1 pineapple)
- 2 cups diced fresh mango (about 3 mangoes)
- 2 cups diced fresh dragon fruit (about 1 dragon fruit)
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
- 1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more to taste
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pistachios, pecans, almonds or a blend of nuts
In a non-reactive bowl, toss together the fruit, citrus juice and maple syrup to combine.
To finish the dish:
If necessary, gently reheat the pork in a covered pan with a splash of water. Season with the hot sauce and salt as desired. Place a hot waffle in the center of each plate and top with a mound of pork in the center. Arrange the fruit around the pork. Garnish with chopped nuts as desired and serve immediately, with more warm maple syrup alongside. Serves 8.
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
VIE DI ROMANS Chardonnay Friuli Isonzo Ciampagnis Vieris 2011 Score: 92 | $34
A vein of smoky mineral underscores this sleek and mouthwatering white, with racy acidity enlivening the rich and layered flavors of macerated peach, lemon meringue, beeswax and honeyed almond, which echo on the finish. Drink now through 2024. 2,000 cases made. —A.N.
CHEHALEM Chardonnay Willamette Valley INOX 2012 Score: 90 | $19
A refreshing style, offering lively balance to the pear, tangerine, lime and stone character, persisting into a well-formed, focused beam. This has depth and length. Drink now through 2016. 5,050 cases made. —H.S.
MORGAN Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands Metallico Un-Oaked 2012 Score: 90 | $22
Pure and ripe, offering juicy notes of honeydew melon, ginger, spice and nectarine, ending with a sustained finish that echoes the core fruit flavors. Drink now through 2017. 6,108 cases made. —J.L.
WATERBROOK Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2012 Score: 90 | $14
Vibrant and expressive, balancing complex pear, quince and clotted cream flavors on a pinpoint of bright acidity, with a harmonious finish. Drink now through 2017. 4,846 cases made. —H.S.
VIÑA CASA TAMAYA DEL LIMARÍ Chardonnay Limarí Valley Reserva 2012 Score: 89 | $16
A focused white, offering luscious yet elegant flavors of apple, apricot and dried peach, with notes of lemon meringue. Shows plush acidity, with accents of butter that linger on the finish. Drink now through 2016. 5,000 cases made.—K.M.
CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2012 Score: 89 | $11
Bright and lively, with juicy pear and grapefruit flavors on a sleek frame, finishing with refreshing acidity and a polished texture. Drink now. 705,000 cases made. —H.S.
VIÑA LEYDA Chardonnay Leyda Valley Classic 2013 Score: 89 | $11
Broad-textured, with firm richness to the ripe pear, dried apple and white raspberry flavors. The finish sings with zesty melon and spice notes. Drink now through 2016. 8,500 cases made. —K.M.
VIÑA SANTA RITA Chardonnay Casablanca Valley Reserva 2011 Score: 89 | $13
This white features intense ripe pear, butterscotch and mango flavors that are balanced and refreshingly rich. Buttery midpalate, showing good acidity behind the fruit and spice character. Smoke and tropical notes fill the finish. Drink now through 2017. 21,600 cases made. —K.M.
VERAMONTE Chardonnay Casablanca Valley 2012 Score: 89 | $12
Concentrated, showing good balance to the dried apple, green fig and pear flavors. Features plenty of buttery notes, with a finish that lingers with sage honey and spice hints. Drink now. 13,000 cases made. —K.M.
A TO Z WINEWORKS Chardonnay Oregon No Wood 2012 Score: 88 | $13
Fresh and inviting, with a juicy beam of grapefruit and pear fruit lingering quietly on the finish. Drink now. 27,644 cases made. —H.S.
BOSCHENDAL Chardonnay Western Cape 2012 Score: 88 | $15
Juicy and direct, with graham cracker, ginger, apple, fig and piecrust notes, showing enough energy through the finish for balance. A crowd-pleasing style. Drink now. 30,000 cases made. —J.M.
CHARLES & CHARLES Columbia Valley 2012 Score: 88 | $12
Fresh and tangy, with pear and spice notes playing against lemony acidity, persisting well. Drink now. 14,000 cases made. —H.S.
COLTERNEZIO Alto Adige Altkirch 2012 Score: 88 | $16
Clean and fresh, with apricot, verbena and apple blossom notes, layered with hints of salted almond and stone. Creamy finish. Drink now through 2016. 13,000 cases made. —A.N.
HOGUE Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2012 Score: 88 | $11
Light and bright, with refreshing pineapple accents to the pear and citrus flavors, finishing with restraint. Drink now. 93,000 cases made. —H.S.