Virginia Breakfast Recipes

Updated breakfast staples from four local chefs.

Sweet potato pancakes with whipped clove butter and apple pear preserves.

Photography by Tyler Darden; food styling by Diana Jeffra

A breeze lifts the curtain in the kitchen window, and a ray of morning sun catches the steam on a freshly poured cup of coffee, as time seems to stand still for a split second. It’s that holiest moment when everyone is just waking up, shaking off the cobwebs and blinking into a brand new day—time for a proper country breakfast with all the fixings: salty, crispy pork; farm-fresh eggs; impossibly fluffy biscuits; velvety grits; and of course, a steaming-hot mug of coffee.

The country breakfast is no-frills, but what it lacks in ornamentation, it more than makes up for in stick-to-your-ribs sustenance, with simply treated, humble ingredients surpassing the sum of their parts. 

We rounded up four Virginia chefs to update a few of our favorite breakfast staples, like Joy Crump’s deftly spiced, maple-laced breakfast sausage and a riff on corn grits from Southern Inn owner George Huger. Since no country breakfast is complete without henhouse-plucked eggs, Shaena Muldoon of The Palisades shares a hearty egg and cheddar casserole studded with mushrooms and scallions, and Beau Floyd of Food.Bar.Food turns the classic breakfast on its head with a macaroni and cheese fritter, cozied up to a smoky-sweet bacon jam.

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Whipped Clove Butter and Apple Pear Preserves

Joy Crump, Foode, Fredericksburg,

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus extra as needed 
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar 
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted 
  • 2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast sweet potatoes whole until done, and then cool completely. Remove and discard the skins, and put the flesh in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar, and butter; stir. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently stir the flour mixture into the sweet potatoes. Add a few tablespoons of buttermilk as needed to get a nice batter consistency. Pour the batter onto a preheated, oiled griddle and cook until edges are formed, lightly browned, and beginning to bubble, about 3 minutes. Turn continue cooking for another 2 minutes or until done.

Serves 4

Pork Breakfast Sausage 

Joy Crump, Foode, Fredericksburg,

Pork breakfast sausage.

  • 2 pounds good-quality ground pork (about 80/20) 
  • ¼ cup maple syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • ⅓ cup fresh sage, finely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons dry oregano 
  • 1 tablespoon dry rosemary 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds 
  • ¾ teaspoon salt 

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly until combined. To test your seasoning, cook a heaping tablespoon in a small skillet. Adjust salt, sweetness, or spice as needed—you can easily add heat by adding a few more red pepper flakes; sweetness can be increased with a few more drops of maple syrup. Once the mixture is seasoned to your taste, allow it to rest uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. To cook, use an ice cream scoop to make 2 ½-inch balls of sausage. Heat a large, heavy, flat skillet to medium heat. (If you have a cast iron skillet, use it!) Add either a few teaspoons of cooking oil or bacon fat to the pan; allow the fat to heat until it shimmers (it should not smoke). Flatten each ball of sausage between your palms to make a patty, and place them into the pan one at a time. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the patty will move easily without sticking and a brown crust has formed. Turn once and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until completely done. Serve immediately. 

Makes about 8 sausage patties 

Pepper jack and gouda mac & cheese fritters with bacon jam.

Pepper Jack and Gouda Mac & Cheese Fritters with Bacon Jam

Beau Floyd, Food.Bar.Food, Harrisonburg,

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, uncooked 
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into large chunks
  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into large chunks
  • ½ cup gouda, shredded
  • ½ cup Parmesan, shredded 
  • oil
  • ¾ cup Tabasco sauce

Flour mixture:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 
  • Panko mixture:
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs 
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 

Cook macaroni in well-salted water until al dente. Drain macaroni, and cool in an ice bath. Strain macaroni as soon as it is cooled; don’t allow the noodles to soak in the water for too long or they will continue to soften. In a medium-large pot, heat the milk and cream over medium heat. In a separate pot, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour, spices, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Gradually ladle in the milk and cream, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, whisking until thickened. Stir in cheeses until melted, then stir in cooked macaroni. Allow to cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate.

Use an ice cream scoop to prepare 12 mac and cheese balls. Fill a frying pan no more than half way with oil and slowly heat to 350 degrees, checking with a thermometer. Add Tabasco sauce to one bowl, and combine all ingredients for the flour mixture and panko mixture in two separate bowls, whisking each until well combined. Add fritters to flour mixture, and cover completely. Move fritters to the Tabasco, and cover completely. Finally, cover fritters completely with the panko mixture. Set breaded fritters aside on a sheet tray, keeping them cool until you’re ready to fry. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, slowly place a few fritters into the oil, submerging them gradually to avoid splatter. When fritters are golden brown, carefully remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Work in batches. Adding too many fritters at once will drop the temperature of the oil dramatically and affect the quality of your finished product. Between batches, use a slotted spoon or mesh sieve to remove excess panko and food debris. Serve fritters warm with bacon jam.

Serves 4-6

For the bacon jam:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup red onion, minced 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 8 ounces bacon, cooked and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add red onion, garlic, and salt, and cook until onions are translucent. Stir the chili powder, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, maple syrup, and brown sugar into the onion mixture. Allow to simmer until dark brown and thickened, watching closely and stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in bacon and balsamic vinegar, allow to cool, and store. 

Makes approximately 2 ½ cups

The Truly Southern Biscuit

Joy Crump, Foode, Fredericksburg,

The truly Southern biscuit.

  • 4 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into 1-inch chunks 
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, salt, and baking powder into a food processor and pulse a few times. Continue pulsing the ingredients, adding a few chunks of butter at a time, until evenly incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the buttermilk. Gently combine the buttermilk until it’s just incorporated; do not overmix. A soft dough will form. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until it is about 1 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter lightly dusted in flour, cut the dough into 3-inch rounds. Place on a baking sheet either lined with parchment paper or lightly greased. Biscuits should be about an inch apart. Chill in the refrigerator for a half hour. Cook biscuits in the preheated oven until they are golden brown on top and fully cooked (but still moist) in the center, about 16 to 18 minutes. 

Makes 8-10 biscuits

Pickled green tomatoes.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

Beau Floyd, Food.Bar.Food, Harrisonburg,

  • 2 cups white vinegar 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 pounds green tomatoes, sliced into ¾-inch wedges

Combine everything but the tomatoes in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow the pickling liquid to cool slightly, and then pour over the tomatoes. Allow to cool to room temperature, pour into glass jars, and refrigerate. Allow tomatoes to pickle a minimum of five days before serving.

Serves 4

Mushroom, Cheddar, and Scallion Egg Casserole

Shaena Muldoon, The Palisades, Eggleston,

Mushroom, cheddar, and scallion egg casserole; roasted jalapeño and fresh corn grits.

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 scallions, cleaned and chopped
  • 12 eggs
  • ½ cup cream
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ cup white cheddar, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat butter in a pan and gently sauté mushrooms and scallions for no more than 5 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool. Whisk eggs, add cream, and add salt and pepper to taste. Grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, and pour in the egg mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar, mushrooms, and scallions, and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the casserole is just firm, turning once during cooking.

Serves 4-6

Roasted Jalapeño and Fresh Corn Grits

George Huger, Southern Inn, Lexington,

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 jalapeños, roasted, seeded, and diced
  • 1 ⅔ cup Wade’s Mill yellow corn grits
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar
  • 1 cup freshly shucked corn 
  • pepper

Pour the milk and a pinch of salt in a medium sauce pot. Add butter and jalapeños. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Whisk while gradually pouring in the grits. Stir over low heat for about 5 minutes, until the grits have thickened. Add the cheese and corn, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

It’s Not Breakfast Without Virginia Pork

A compelling argument could be made for naming pork the state food of Virginia. We’ve been raising and feasting on hogs since the dawn of the Commonwealth. It’s sizzling in our barbecue pits and reaching charred perfection on our grills. No truly Southern morning is complete without it, whether in the form of sage-scented sausage, crispy bacon, or the classic Virginia country ham that signifies breakfast below the Mason-Dixon line.

Smithfield Ham, Smithfield Foods

Raised on a diet of Virginia peanuts and made only in Smithfield, this ham is a Virginia original, dating back to the 18th century. Known for its salty cure, Smithfield Ham is a bite of history, and visitors to the area are encouraged to learn all about it at the Isle of Wight County Museum, home of the world’s oldest ham.

Surryano Ham, Edwards Ham

Fourth-generation family owners, the Edwards are still recovering their operation from a devastating 2016 fire, but they continue to produce this world-class ham with a rich, mahogany-hued flesh and ribbons of lomo-quality fat throughout. This Surry-made ham is every bit as mouthwatering as its namesake, Spanish Serrano.

Bacon Sausage, Milton’s Local

You read that right—bacon sausage. Conscientiously sourced pork is the beginning of this unique sausage, made in Hopewell and available in three flavors: Chipotle & Cilantro, Bell Pepper & Onion, and a Beer Bacon Bratwurst made with Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager.

Dry Sugar-Cured Slab Bacon, Padow’s

With a fine balance between sweet and savory, this sugar-cured, hickory-smoked bacon from Padow’s in Glen Allen has been made the same way for generations. Slicing the bacon right off the slab allows you to choose your desired thickness, perfect for thin and crispy rashers or weightier slices.

Red Eye Bacon, BBQ Exchange

This ultimate breakfast meat combines two a.m. essentials: bacon and coffee (locally roasted by Shenandoah Joe), plus a secret mix of spices. It’s then cured, dried, and smoked to perfection to produce something that is worthy of waking up early.

This article originally appeared in our Smoke + Salt 2019 issue.

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