Southern cooks are experts when it comes to comfort food, beginning with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Chicken and waffles, an unbeatable duo starring on breakfast menus across the South, strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory, soft and crispy. Rich fluffy waffles topped with sweet maple syrup are excellent on their own, but add well-seasoned, crispy fried chicken and it becomes something truly special.
Beyond the complementary flavors on the breakfast table, the shared ingredients for creating both fried chicken and waffles make the combo a convenient dish for the kitchen as well. Buttermilk, flour, eggs, and baking soda each play an important role in building the flavors of this brunch pair. The egg whites in the chicken batter help keep the breading light and crispy while the egg yolks in the waffles add richness. The magical liquid buttermilk contains both an acid that tenderizes the chicken and a tangy flavor that gives depth to the waffles. In the fried chicken, baking soda gives the breading that golden brown color while ensuring the perfect rise needed for light, airy waffles.
While each part of this dynamic duo could be made and enjoyed separately, once you have the ingredients for one, you are practically prepared to make its brunchy paramour. For a traditional dish, whip up the recipe below and top with maple syrup, toasted pecans, powdered sugar, fresh fruit or whipped cream.
⅔ cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons melted butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Whisk all wet ingredients together and set aside. Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Stir until all of the dry ingredients are absorbed. Do not worry about a few lumps. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes while the waffle iron warms. Follow the instructions based on your waffle iron to cook the batter. Place waffles in a 200 degrees F oven covered by tinfoil to keep warm.
1 pound chicken breasts
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon paprika
4 egg whites
Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and place in a container. Cover the chicken with buttermilk and stir to ensure that each strip is evenly coated and covered. Allow the chicken to brine in the buttermilk for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until frothy bubbles appear. In another bowl whisk the dry ingredients.
Heat 3 inches of cooking oil, vegetable or peanut, to 350 degrees F on the stovetop.
After the brine, coat the chicken strips by removing them from the buttermilk, covering them with flour, dunking them in the egg whites and then back into the flour.
Add the coated strips to the preheated oil in a single layer to cook until a deep golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Flip the strips a couple times during the cooking to ensure an even cook. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that they are thoroughly cooked. The interior temperature should read 165 degrees F. Once the chicken is finished, place on a clean plate covered with a paper towel to drain excess oil.