I had never had chicken and waffles before. I know they’re a thing — a big thing — in some parts of the country, and it’s obvious why: people love the combination of salty and sweet. Hot, slightly greasy fried chicken on top of light, fluffy waffles, drizzled with some maple syrup; why wouldn’t it be delicious, and therefore popular? Yet somehow, I never managed to try the combination; I did try the Lay’s potato chip flavor last year, but I was less than impressed. I knew the real thing had to be more impressive to have become so widely loved.
In my quest to find more ways to incorporate maple into my cooking without boring Ian to tears, the idea niggled at the back of my mind — what if I made maple fried chicken? The internet yielded very little in the way of inspiration, so I had to make it up as I went, which is always frightening as well as a little exciting. I was so consumed with how to make it work that I totally forgot about making any sides to go with it, but of course the answer was staring me in the face all along: waffles. I was already using baking mix in the breading, so why not throw together a quick batch of waffles to go with it?
This chicken is spicy as well as salty and sweet, but if you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to leave out the hot sauce in the egg wash, and dial back the chili and cayenne in the breading to your own tastes. Furthermore, I used boneless breasts, because I was pounding it out and serving it on top of waffles, but you can make this as a stand-alone chicken dish and use whatever pieces you like. Just remember, because there is maple in the breading and eggwash, it will get dark fast — don’t worry about it. It’s probably not burned, just deeply caramelized.
Breakfast is typically very simple for us; most mornings I will make a four-egg cheese omelet or a batch of oatmeal porridge to split two ways, but some mornings I do like to make something unique, and this morning was one of the latter variety. This morning, after surveying the contents of my kitchen, I threw together a delightfully moist muffin recipe; I call it a muffin, because it’s made in a muffin tin, but it’s really more like a moist, rich pancake breakfast in a shape that you can easily take with you on the go — as Ian nearly had to do this morning, because I dawdled a bit too long before heading downstairs to make breakfast.
Both of these recipes contain both maple syrup and maple sugar; I like to cook with maple sugar fairly frequently, and several people have contacted me to ask where to buy it. You can find maple sugar at most farms that produce maple products, as well as in the bulk section of most natural foods stores. You can also order it online from such retailers as King Arthur Flour and Amazon, but it can get very expensive that way, particularly with shipping, so I recommend finding it locally if possible.
Maple Fried Chicken
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)
- splash of milk
- 1 1/2 cups baking mix (I use Bisquick)
- 1/4 cup maple sugar
- 1 teaspoon each cayenne, garlic powder, chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1 inch of canola oil*
Pound out the breasts until they are very thin; this will make them fry up faster. In a wide, shallow bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, sriracha and a splash of milk. In another wide, shallow bowl, combine baking mix, maple sugar and spices. In a cast iron skillet or other deep-sided frying pan, heat canola oil to about 350°F. (Use a deep fry/candy thermometer if you’re not sure, and you don’t feel comfortable guessing. You can also use a deep-fryer with a regulated temperature if you prefer.) Coat chicken pieces one at a time with egg wash, then dredge in breading mixture, and place carefully in hot oil. Cook until golden brown, turning over once to ensure the breading all gets browned. Remove to a paper towel to drain, and sprinkle lightly with salt while still hot. Note: If the breading starts to get too dark on the outside and the chicken isn’t cooked through on the inside, you can put it in the oven at 350°F for five or ten minutes afterward to ensure doneness and safety. Serve with sides, or atop a waffle (I used the recipe on the Bisquick box, with the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg to tie in with the breading on the chicken) with a drizzle of maple syrup.
Maple “Pancake Breakfast” Muffins
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup maple sugar (plus some to sprinkle on top.)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 cup low-fat greek yogurt (I like Fage best)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine all ingredients well, and spoon into greased or lined muffin pan, filling to about half (Makes one pan — 6 jumbo, 12 regular or 24 mini muffins.) Sprinkle with maple sugar, and bake 20 minutes for jumbo (slightly less for smaller muffins)or until tops are nicely golden brown. Test doneness by inserting a wooden skewer or toothpick into the center; if it comes out clean, they are done. Note: You could also stir some crispy bacon or sausage crumbles into the batter before baking or sprinkle them on top to add to the ‘pancake breakfast’ effect.
For more recipes from my kitchen to yours, please visit http://www.forkable.net.