You know the saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself”? I’m usually a pretty firm believer in that. One could also say, “if you want something you’ve never eaten before, cook it yourself”. Now that’s an idea I can totally get behind!
It has been the case with many things I’ve eaten in the past (French macarons, Cuban sandwiches, brioche ice cream sandwiches, to name a few), that the first time I tried any of those things, they were versions I made myself. I figured, why stop there? I know it’s not a new thing by any means, but chicken and waffles have always intrigued me from a food standpoint. What’s not to like about the classic combo of salty and sweet, with a fluffy syrup-soaked waffle and crispy, spicy fried chicken? This delicious duo can be found in many restaurants across the country (especially the south), but I had yet to try it for myself — until now. Creating my own version of chicken and waffles was lots of fun, and I finally got to see what all the fuss is about! Hope you’re hungry, cause chicken and waffles are not for the faint of heart.
chicken + waffles
(makes 4 very generous portions, or 8 smaller portions)
spicy fried chicken tenders
(coating modified from this recipe)
7 Tbs + 1 1/2 tsp (62 g) cornstarch
1 3/4 c (211 g) all purpose flour
2 Tbs (14 g) paprika
1 Tbs + 1 1/2 tsp (13 g) ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp (5 g) granulated garlic
1 1/2 tsp (2 g) dried oregano
1 tsp (7 g) salt
1/2 tsp (2 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (1 g) cayenne pepper
3 Tbs milk
8 chicken breast tenderloins
1 1/2 c milk, for dipping chicken
vegetable oil, for frying
real maple syrup
hot sauce of your choice (optional, but so damn good)
(makes 4 – 8 inch round waffles)
2 1/2 c (312 g) all purpose flour
2 Tbs + 1 1/4 tsp (28 g) potato starch
8 Tbs (121 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp (7 g) salt
1 Tbs (13 g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (1 g) ground nutmeg
6 Tbs (78 g) vegetable oil
1 c (256 g) milk
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Begin by preheating your oven to 175 degrees or so, and filling a 4 – 6 quart pot (or counter top deep fryer) with vegetable oil, about half way up the side.
For the chicken dredge: In a medium bowl, combine the cornstarch, flour, paprika, pepper, garlic, oregano, salt, baking powder, and cayenne pepper. Whisk to fully combine, and add the 3 tablespoons of milk. With your hands, mix in the milk until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
For the waffles: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, potato starch, sugar, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Add the vegetable oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla and stir until just combined. The batter should be quite thick.
Preheat a waffle iron (I used an 8 inch round waffle iron; your finished waffle yield may be different if you use a different sized waffle iron), and once it is hot, spray with a light coating of nonstick cooking spray. Scoop 3/4 c (6 ounces by volume; I used three #16 scoops) waffle batter into the center of the waffle iron. Close and allow the waffle to cook. Most waffle irons have an indicator light, so once this goes off, you’ll know the waffle is done. If yours does not have an indicator light, watch for the steam coming out of the sides of the waffle iron to stop — then you’ll know your waffle is done. Remove the cooked waffle and keep warm on a plate in your preheated oven. Finish cooking the rest of the waffles and leave them in the oven while you cook the chicken.
To cook the chicken: Heat the oil for frying (use a reliable digital thermometer to test the oil temperature), bringing the oil to 300 degrees.
Pour the 1 1/2 cups of milk into an oblong high sided dish. Working one piece at a time, dip one chicken tender into the milk, allowing excess to run off. Place into the bowl of chicken dredge and coat well on all sides, gently shaking off excess. Carefully dip in the milk once again, and return to the dry mix. Coat well once again, and place the coated piece on a parchment lined sheet pan. Continue coating the remaining pieces in the same way, letting them rest on the sheet pan.
Once all the chicken tenders are coated, begin frying 2 – 3 at a time (depending on the size of your pot/deep fryer) at 300 degrees, for about 5 minutes, making sure the chicken is fully submerged in the oil. If you take the internal temperature of the chicken when it’s done, it may register somewhere between 130 – 140 degrees; this is fine. The carryover temperature will continue to climb, and ensure that the chicken is perfectly cooked (you’re aiming for a finished temperature of 145-150 degrees). Lightly salt the chicken pieces after they come out of the oil.
Place the cooked chicken on a cooling rack set over a paper towel-lined sheet pan. Continue cooking the chicken until all of it has been fried.
To serve: Grab the waffles from the oven and place one on a large plate. Pour a liberal amount of maple syrup over the waffle, and top with two pieces of fried chicken. Pour over more syrup and a dash (or a lot) of hot sauce. Grab your fork and go to town!
This dish most definitely falls under the category of comfort food. Rich, crispy, sweet, spicy, decadent, and almost obscenely good, these chicken and waffles ain’t nothing to mess with. They’re not diet food, and are in no way a healthful meal option, but I think you can agree that we need a little edible comfort from time to time. Everything in moderation — although these might be hard to stop eating!