Breakfast for dinner grows up: Savory Waffles with Mushrooms and Braised Veal

by Terry B on October 19, 2011

Savory waffles, flavored with fresh thyme and buckwheat flour, are topped with a mushroom and braised veal sauce. Recipe below.

Lots of people love eating breakfast for dinner. To me, though, it’s often been more of a meal of last resort. What you eat when you haven’t gotten to the store for more serious groceries, but hey, you’ve got eggs, and the bread is fresh enough if you toast it.

But recently, I stumbled across the idea of savory waffles—can’t remember where now—and breakfast for dinner suddenly became more interesting. For starters, you’ve got waffles, elegant city cousins of the country pancake. They even require their own machine to make—no mere cast iron skillet will do. Whenever my mom hauled out the waffle iron (always on a weekend morning, and certainly never for dinner), breakfast just felt fancier, more fun.

Then there’s the savory part. Taking something generally meant to be dressed with syrup or jam (or somewhat disturbingly—at least to me—with sugary fruit and whipped cream) and topping it instead with something salty, even meaty, and definitely dinnerish.

Savory waffles is a bit of a misnomer. They’re not overly salty and don’t contain chicken stock or any other umami flavor. They’re just less sweet, a little saltier and more open to pairing with a savory topping. Fresh herbs give them an extra layer of interesting. Some recipes call for using corn meal along with flour, but I feel this takes you down a cornbread path that I didn’t want. Instead, I took a page from the French crêpes notebook. The difference between sweet and savory crêpes is that the latter includes buckwheat flour in the mix; it adds a similarly rustic note without going all cornbread.

Savory Waffles with Mushrooms and Braised Veal
Serves 4

For the mushrooms and braised veal:
1-1/2 pounds veal, cut into bite-sized pieces (see Kitchen Notes)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
3 small shallots, chopped and divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade stock, even better)
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh parsley
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I used crimini mushrooms—see Kitchen Notes)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup Marsala wine (or Madeira or dry sherry)
fresh sage leaves for garnish, optional

For the savory waffles:
1 cup unbleached general purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour (or another cup of general purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 eggs
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Prepare the mushrooms and braised veal. Season the veal chunks with salt and pepper. In a plastic bag, toss the veal with 1 tablespoon of flour; this will give it a very light coating of flour to help it brown and lightly thicken the sauce. Heat a large, lidded nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the veal. If you have veal bones (I cut up a bone-in arm steak for my veal—see Kitchen Notes), add those to the pan too. Brown the veal lightly on all sides, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Turn the bones a time or two as you stir. Transfer veal and bones to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat slightly and sweat about half of the chopped shallots for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, drizzling in a little more oil, if needed. Take care that they don’t burn or overly brown. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon sage and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Pour in chicken broth and then wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Return veal (plus bones, if you have them) and any accumulated juices to the pan. Tuck in the bay leaves, lay the parsley sprigs across the top of the veal, cover the pan and reduce the flame to very low.

Braise the veal until very tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure your liquid doesn’t cook down too much; add a little water, if needed. You probably won’t need to.

As the veal is nearing doneness, cook the mushrooms. In a separate large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over a medium flame and swirl in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the mushrooms until they give up their moisture and it evaporates, about 5 minutes or so. Stir in the remaining shallots and sage, drizzling in more oil, if needed (mushrooms love to soak up butter and oil). Cook until shallots are just tender, 3 or so minutes. Turn off flame and add Marsala. Stir for a few moments, then turn on the flame again. Cook mushrooms until Marsala is almost completely evaporated.

Remove parsley and bones from the veal mixture and add mushrooms. Stir to combine completely. Sauce will probably be pretty thin; if so, make a beurre manié (French for kneaded butter). Cut up 1 tablespoon of butter into a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and, using your fingers, work flour into the butter.

Push mushroom/veal mixture to the sides of the pan and whisk bits of the beurre manié into the sauce until sauce has thickened to a syrupy consistency; I used about half of it. Cover the mushroom/veal mixture and keep warm if waffles aren’t ready.

Make waffles. Preheat your waffle iron according to manufacturer instructions. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and melted butter. Stir in thyme. Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix until thoroughly combined; don’t overwork. Let batter rest for at least 5 minutes before cooking according to waffle iron instructions. Cook them on the crisp side.

Keep waffles warm in a preheated oven, but don’t stack—they’ll steam each other and lose their crispness.

Assemble plates. Arrange waffles on individual plates. Spoon mushroom/veal mixture over waffles. Garnish with sage leaves.

Kitchen Notes

Veal—and other options. You can sometimes find veal stew meat. If not, look for a veal arm steak. Cut the meat from the bones and keep the bones to help flavor the sauce. If you can’t find veal or want other choices, you can substitute steak or pork or chicken. The taste will be different, but still delicious. You can also substitute the chicken and mushrooms filling from this crêpes recipe.

Picking mushrooms. I used crimini or baby bella mushrooms. Feel free to use any mushrooms you like, including button mushrooms.

Too many waffles. The batter will make 7 or 8 8-inch waffles. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to halve the 3 eggs called for. Besides, in my experience, the first waffle or two ends up not working out anyway and has to be tossed. If you have leftover waffles, some recipes suggest refrigerating or freezing them and reheating them in a toaster. You could also reheat them on a baking sheet in the oven. I wouldn’t use a microwave—that will make them soggy.


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen » October 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Do you have an electric waffle iron? I keep thinking about buying one and then talk myself out of it again.

Terry B October 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

We do have an electric waffle iron from Cuisinart, Kristen. We wouldn’t have necessarily bought one, but we got it as a gift. It doesn’t see a lot of action, but when we remember to make waffles, I’m always glad we have it. The appliance I keep talking myself out of is a slow cooker. They take up lots of real estate, and my limited experience with one years ago made me think everything comes out tasting like Dinty Moore canned stew.

love cooking October 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

This is a dish that surprises me, very creative and interesting. I can’t imagine waffle with salty meat and sauce, and it is not for breakfast or tea break but for dinner. Have to try it, but I will go for the chicken version. :)

Kristen » October 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I am also deeply anti-Crock Pot. I mean, I already have a stove, and a Dutch oven. I don’t have a job that exhausts me to the point that I don’t want to cook when I get home, so why would I sacrifice the kitchen space (and the taste of food that hasn’t been cooking for 9 hours)?

Jackson October 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm

First thing I thought of when I saw this was chicken and waffles. Easily one of the biggest pleasant surprises I’ve had eating. Everyone always says “That sounds horrible” or “Those don’t go together”, shows what they know, zero. Anyway, it looks good, not sure what I think about the mushrooms with it but might have to give it a try.

Terry B October 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Thanks, Love Cooking! If it helps, think of savory waffles with meaty toppings as kind of crispy, architectural savory crêpes.

Kristen, well said. That’s pretty much why I’ve avoided crock pots too.

Jackson, if you already like chicken and waffles, you’re halfway there to mushrooms and other savory toppings. I hope you do give it a try.

Valentina October 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

i agree, a planned breakfast for dinner is much more interesting than just grabbing the eggs and toast when there’s nothing else! this looks gorgeous and super delicious, and there’s no cooking i love more than braising this time of year. the sage, mushrooms, veal — all so earthy and hearty!

Janelle October 20, 2011 at 6:45 pm

This goes right along with a conversation my husband and I were having this morning, except I think your recipe is much more elegant. Our conversation started because he accused me of going to Waffle House to eat hamburgers (which are nothing like waffles) and then we started planning a waffle cheeseburger… it goes something like what you posted, but not as classy. Thanks for the synchronicity, and convincing me to have waffles for dinner soon.

Terry B October 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Valentina, I am so glad to be back in braising weather again. So many wonderful possibilities! For one thing, Marion’s been talking about making her delicious milk braised pork with tarragon again.

Janelle, I kind of have to side with your husband on this one. I mean, it’s like going to a steak house and ordering the fish. Waffle cheeseburgers, eh? I’d be fascinated to hear how hat turns out!

Eeka October 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Hmmm, I didn’t know that Waffle House sold hamburgers. Sounds like false advertising…
If I made a waffle cheeseburger, I think I’d break up the meat and use a cheese sauce to glue it to the waffle… ooh, speaking of cheese sauce, what about Welsh Rabbit on waffles…
Terry, I will definitely try your recipe, perhaps sans meat.
I have inherited my grandmother’s wafflemaker; the waffle grids flip over to a flat surface that could be used for pannini.

altadenahiker October 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I just find it hard to imagine that anything can be a better friend to a waffle than maple syrup.

Terry B October 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm

You know, Eeka, one of our guilty pleasures used to be Steak n’ Shake (although not since their menu has changed). Our younger daughter, from little on, would only eat their chili mac, even though they’re known for their steakburgers. When she finally tried a burger as a teenager, we felt that the Earth had somehow shifted out of alignment or something. Your grandmother’s waffle iron sounds like a great inheritance! If you do go meatless, I’d urge you to let mushrooms star—they’ll add the umami this dish calls for.

Oh, Altadenahiker, maple syrup is your answer to everything.

kitty October 25, 2011 at 11:38 am

this looks delicious! I like that it’s not just another stew with polenta/rice/pasta/potatoes recipe.

kitchenriffs October 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm

This is brilliant. I love breakfast for dinner, and you’ve really upped the ante here. Really creative and interesting recipe. But it makes sense – no one would think twice about this recipe if you wrapped the veal in crepes. The waffle is a similar batter in different form. But the waffle works better than the crepes. I’ve never hankered for a waffle iron before, but you’ve got me thinking.

BTW, in a comment above you mentioned slow cookers. Good for beans, in my experience, not worth it really for anything else. Beans (the dried ones) work because you need long, slow cooking, and that’s what the slow cooker does. IMO the beans are better done in the oven – but the slow cooker is probably more economical. That said, I rarely use my slow cooker, and if (when) it eventually dies I won’t replace it.

Anyway, really like this recipe (and your whole blog, actually). Thanks.

Terry B October 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Thanks, Kitty! And for that very reason, I think you’ll be seeing savory waffles showing up on more and more restaurant menus.

Kitchenriffs—Thanks so much! Regarding slow cookers and beans, I keep meaning to try the quick soak method, where you bring a pot of beans and water to a boil, then shut it off and let it sit covered for an hour, instead of soaking overnight. A number of food people I trust swear by this method.

[email protected] October 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm

This dish hits all the umami, comfort food, last meal criteria.

Eeka October 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Ah, don’t remind me of Steak & Shake. I now live in upstate NY, and there is not one for hundreds of miles. Sometimes I crave their burgers, with the lacy edges, and those delicate frenchfries….

Terry B October 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Eeka, their burgers and fries are still good (at least the last time we had them), but they revised the menu, dumping a lot of our favorites, and the overall quality doesn’t seem to be what it was. They’re pretty much off our list these days.

Harmony November 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

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