The other day, I pinned an incredible-sounding chicken and waffles cupcake. Since then, I've had chicken and waffles on the brain. What? You've not tasted Chicken and Waffles - you know, together? Well, well, my friend. Let me break it to you: You haven't lived.
See? There's nothing quite like a crisp-tender waffle topped with perfect fried chicken, then doused with real maple syrup. Trust me. This is soul food on its purest, divine level. I had a vision, though, and wanted to up the ante on this great combo - make it an ultimate pairing with some hidden goodies that subtly stroked the palate. Wow. Waxing poetic, aren't I?
OK, so here's the deal - I won't lie - this is an involved recipe. You need to have some equipment (waffle iron and cast-iron skillet), and the commitment, but I promise, it so, so worth it!
My vision was to make not just Chicken & Waffles but Fried Chicken & Butternut-Quinoa Waffles with Cinnamon Chipotle Maple Syrup. But I wanted there to be this baseline of....wait for it...
Here's how it went...
There's three main parts to this gig: cooking the ingredients, frying the chicken, and making the waffles. When it's time to make the waffles, you want the ingredients ready to roll, so it's a good idea to have them done ahead of time. In fact, it would probably be great to make them a day ahead. I tend to keep a cup or so of cooked quinoa in the fridge, so I just scooped some out for the waffles. If you're working from the very beginning, here's step one:
1) Cook about 1/4 c quinoa according to package directions, then set aside
Meanwhile, get your butternut squash cooking.
2) Peel and remove seeds from a small butternut squash.
3) Cut into 1" cubes, and place in a saucepan4) Dice two slices of bacon, add to squash
5) Add water to saucepan to almost cover squash/bacon
6) Cook on medium until squash is fork-tender - about 30 minutes - adding extra water if necessary
7) Set aside when done
Now comes the heavy lifting - frying the chicken. My husband did the dirty work for me on this one, and I'm sorry I don't have pics, but here's the process we followed:
- 2 Boneless, Skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips or tenders
- 2 c Plain, nonfat yogurt
- 3 c All-purpose flour
- 1 T Sweet paprika
- 1 tsp Cayenne
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Canola oil for frying
- Whisk together the yogurt, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place chicken in yogurt, stir to cover, and refrigerate 3-4 hours.
- In a large baking dish, combine flour, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Pour about 3 inches of oil into a deep cast iron skillet; the oil should not come more than half way up the sides of the pot. Put the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil.
- To batter the chicken, remove tenders from yogurt, and dredge in flour mixture.
- Working in batches, add the chicken tenders to the hot oil, 5 or so at a time and fry, turning the pieces occasionally, until evenly golden brown and cooked through, about 7 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil with tongs and transfer to a rack to drain; repeat to cook the remaining pieces.
- Keep the chicken warm while making the waffles by placing it in the oven on the lowest temperature setting.
....and....finally, the Waffles
This is my adaptation of the Basic Waffles recipe from the all-new Joy of Cooking. If you have kiddos, and they're anything like mine, they'll laser in on the waffle part of this meal, and want nothing else. By adding the quinoa and butternut, you can have the satisfaction in knowing they're getting a nutrient-dense vegetable in the squash, and important amino acids in the quinoa. Win-win.
- 1 3/4 c Whole Wheat spelt flour (you can use all-purpose or whole wheat, no worries)
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 T sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs, well beaten
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 c milk
- 1/4 c cooked quinoa
- 1/2 c cooked butternut squash, mashed
- Preheat waffle iron
- Whisk together in large bowl flour, baking powder, sugar and salt
- In another bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, and milk *If your melted butter is hot, be sure to temper it in the milk before adding it to the eggs
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients
- Gently whisk together to combine.
- Fold in quinoa and butternut *Just the cooked butternut, not the bacon
- Spoon 1/2 cup batter onto the hot iron, spread slightly, close lid, and bake until iron indicates "ready," or until waffle is golden brown
- 1/2 c pure Maple syrup
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground chipotle
- Mix syrup, cinnamon, and chipotle, and warm in a saucepan over low heat until slightly thickened.
The idea is to get all the amazing flavors in one bite, so it works well to slice a chicken tender, and place it over a plated waffle. Cover it with a second waffle if you like, then drizzle the waffles and chicken with a generous amount of syrup.Enjoy (and try not to swoon!)