A Waffly Good Combo

The Ultimate Chicken and Waffles

My 6-year-old will go weeks at a time where she eats nothing but waffles. No, I do not make them every time she wants them. I will make a few dozen at a time, freeze them on a tray, bag them and store them in the freezer. With my generic recipe, I can add chocolate chips, fruit, green onions, cooked bacon, toasted nuts or just about anything else. The recipe is also lenient regarding the type of dairy that can be used (milk, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, alternatives such as oat, soy or almond milk, or a combination). This helps to use up things sitting in the fridge that may have an approaching expiration date. 

I have a bad habit of asking my wife what she wants to eat, not knowing what the answer may be, and not having a suggestion myself. Sometimes I regret asking, but other times it makes me come up with ways to make that meal using items already on hand. One morning ‘Chicken and Waffles’ was the answer to my question. I thought for a second I had waffles made. as well as breaded chicken, both frozen and ready to go. After we ate, she said, ‘why have you never made this for me before?’ To which I replied, ‘you have never asked for it before.’

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make three or four times as much as you need, freeze the cooked waffles, as well as the raw breaded chicken, for later use. The chicken works great for chicken and waffles but could easily be turned into a fried chicken sandwich, chicken parm or fried and sliced for a salad.

Waffles

The trick to the waffles is to not over-mix. You want the batter to just barely come together — this will prevent the development of too much gluten. The waffles can be ‘spiced up’ with just about anything you want — a little cooked bacon, pecans, sauteed shallots, green onions or fresh herbs. Feel free to go sweet or savory. I make three to four times the batch below, let the waffles cool, then freeze them lying flat on a tray. After 8 to 12 hours, they can be removed and placed into  zip closure bags. They can be frozen for 2 to 3 months, then defrosted and cooked in the toaster or oven. If you want to add an extra layer of crispness, the waffles can be thawed in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds until squishy, then quickly fried. This gives a great crisp outer layer and a soft interior.

Brook – Chicken Waffles

Chicken

I prefer boneless skinless chicken thighs, but skinless chicken breast cut horizontally will also work. The chicken should be about ½-inch thick. You can pound it out with a meat mallet or the bottom of a small sauté pan. 

Brook – Chicken Waffles

Marinade

I try to marinate between 8 to 24 hours, but even 2 or 3 hours will help. Too much longer can make the chicken start to break down and lose too much texture. Salt the last 3 to 4 hours before cooking, but not sooner. If the salt is on too long it can have adverse effect and the chicken will lose too much moisture. I prefer using buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. As long as you have about a pound or two cups total, you will be good for a single recipe. The acidity from the dairy will help tenderize the chicken as well as create a great contrasting flavor with the outside crust after it’s fried. Herbs, spices and other flavoring are great to add at this point, but again, leave the salt until the last few hours, then mix.

Brook – Chicken Waffles

Breading

I love Panko breadcrumbs for most breading applications. Here, however, I prefer flour with some corn starch. The coating created by the marinade is enough to get the mixture of flour and cornstarch to stick. One coating of the breading will do, but most of the time I like to dip back into the marinade, then back into the breading for a thicker, crisper crust. The breading is also a great place to add in some extra flavor or heat. Extra paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, chipotle powder, onion powder, salt, or black peppercan also create more flavor.

Cooking

Whether you are pan-frying, deep-frying, using a tabletop fryer, or air frying, use caution — it is hot! I like to fry between 360 to 375. If the chicken’s on the thicker side, maybe closer to 350. You want to find that sweet spot where the crust is getting crisp with a little color, but not overcooked on the outside and raw on the inside. You should see a slow steady bubble while frying, that may get slower as it gets closer to getting done. You are looking for an internal temperature of 165 in the thickest part of the chicken. 

Brook – Chicken Waffles

Freezing (Waffles)

The waffles will need to be completely made and cooked, then cooled, to be frozen. They can be laid out onto a cookie sheet to cool, then put into the freezer until frozen all the way through. They can then be put into a zip closure bag in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. You can take them out as you need and cook in the toaster or oven until heated through.

Freezing (Chicken)

I find it best to freeze the chicken after it is breaded. It has the best properties being cooked after being frozen, as opposed to cooking it and then freezing it. This causes a little more concern because you will have raw chicken uncovered in the freezer. Please be careful and make sure not to overload so the chicken doesn’t drip on other items. I find it best to cook directly from frozen. Start with cooler oil, closer to 300, then turn the heat up after the first 3 to 5 minutes to 365. You can then cook as you would normally until the chicken registers 165 in the thickest part.

Brook – Chicken Waffles

Topping

You can use real maple syrup, flavored syrup, honey or whatever other sweet substance you want on your waffles. The same goes for the hot chicken oil. As always, take or leave items listed, depending on how ridiculous you want to be.

Recipe

Chicken

  • Marinade
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano

Breading

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional for extra spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional for extra spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (option for a slight puff in the crust)

Cook chicken using preferred method at a temperature between 360 to 375 degrees, closer ti 350 if the chicken’s on the thicker side. The crust should get crisp with a little color, but not overcooked on the outside and raw on  the inside. Watch for a slow steady bubble while cooking, which may get slower as chicken gets closer to being done. The internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken should read 165 degrees.

Hot Chicken Brushing Oil

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (1 tbsp for extra spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne (1 tbsp for extra spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Place all of the spices into a sauté pan. When all of the chicken has been fried, put about a cup of hot oil into the pans and stir the ingredients. Once the chicken has been fried, you can brush with the hot oil mixture or put the whole piece of chicken in the pan and coat both sides.

Syrup

  • 4 ounces maple syrup
  • 4 ounces honey
  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Bring the maple syrup and honey to a simmer for about 7 to 10 minutes until the mixture becomes slightly thick (before it becomes caramel). Add the butter and salt and simmer until it becomes emulsified. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Waffles (makes 4 to 6 waffles)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream or milk
  • 1 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Melter butter, oil or spray as needed for the waffle iron

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix all of the wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, just until incorporated; a few lumps are fine. Make waffles as directed by instructions that came with the waffle maker.

SAVORY VARIATION

Cook 4 slices of bacon until crisp, add whites of 3 thinly sliced scallions at the end to cook. Leave the butter out of the recipe and add bacon and fat with scallions once cool, in place of butter. Top finished dish with thinly sliced green scallion tops.

Add 1/2 cup blue cheese and 1/2 cup toasted pecans or other nuts to the batter.

Add 1/2 cups sliced shallots, 2 teaspoons capers, 3 ounces chopped smoked salmon to batter.

Add 1/2 cup diced sautéed ham, and 1/2 cup diced swiss cheese, and 3 sliced scallions.

SWEET VARIATION

Cook 4 slices of bacon, add 3 tablespoons of brown sugar after the bacon’s crisp. Then turn off the heat and stir in. Leave the button our of the recipe and add bacon and fat with brown sugar in place of butter once cooled.

Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips to the batter when stirring.

Add 1/2 cup toasted nuts to the batter when stirring.

Add 1/2 cup raisins to 1/2 cup warm rum and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Add to batter one broken up Heath bar.

 

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