Waffles and Fried Chicken I Finally Love.
There were a lot of decisions that went into this dish. I’ve always loved the idea of fried chicken with waffles, but I’ve never really enjoyed the reality of this combination. I don’t get how it’s even supposed to be eaten. A fried chicken drumstick sitting on top of a waffle baffles me. Are you supposed to pour maple syrup on top of all of it? And then what? Pick up that sticky drumstick and eat it in between bites of the waffle? And the waffles are usually Belgian waffles which I find too heavy to eat along with fried chicken. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t bore you to death.
I decided to take this on myself and came up with a recipe I love. It all begins with the fried chicken and I chose boneless and skinless chicken breasts. Not normally my choice for fried chicken, but I wanted white meat because I felt it would be a better match than fatty deeper flavored chicken thighs with waffles and I chose boneless because they’d be easy to eat with a knife and fork. Knowing that chicken breasts are prone to drying out when cooked, I brined them overnight in buttermilk and salt. The next day I lightly covered them in a seasoned flour/cornstarch/rice flour mixture that I knew would give me a nice crust, but one which wasn’t too thick. I’m not a fan of thick breading on fried chicken. I chose to give them a heavy sprinkle of sumac as soon as they came out of the hot oil because I wanted that bright hit of tartness to offset the deep flavors of the spices. After that, it was only a matter of attending to the waffles.
I wanted a lighter waffle than any I’ve ever tasted. But it had to be really crispy, too. And it would be a classic waffle, not a Belgian waffle. When my son suggested using ube flavoring I knew he’d hit on something I fully supported. I also added a little bit of coconut extract. Not enough to actually detect the flavor, but enough to enhance the ube. Earlier in the day, I combined all my dry ingredients and had them in reserve. Right before I cooked the waffles I added the liquids, one of which was club soda. This addition greatly influenced the light and fluffy texture of the waffles, but in order to get them as light as I wanted, I beat the egg whites separately and folded them in at the very end. Well, these waffles surpassed all my expectations. We ate the first one out of hand as it came off the waffle iron and were astonished at both the flavor and texture. They were practically lacy in the thinner parts and supremely crispy, But the insides were soft and almost creamy. And the ube flavor put these over the top. This was the waffle of my dreams!!
Earlier in the day, I was talking to my friend, Jamie Parrish, from Raised Southern, and he told me about a fried chicken and waffle dish he’d once eaten that was topped with a crème fraîche chili sauce. Wow. Now that sounded incredibly interesting. Seeing as I had crème fraîche on hand, I mixed some with maple syrup, honey, chili powder and salt. This rounded out the whole dish, although these would still be good with warm spicy maple syrup or honey. Finally, fried chicken and waffles I could thoroughly enjoy.