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.