Though I?rarely fall into the Food Network trap, sometimes a glimpse of their oft-zoomed-in-on mouth-watering yet terribly bad for you All-American fare catches your eye ... then stains your brain with images of sweet, savory, high-calorie goodness.
I had always wondered what the seemingly odd combination of chicken and waffles would be like. A?hearty, savory dinner staple combined with a light, sweet breakfast staple??A million roadside diners can't be wrong, so several months ago I?traded in roughly five metric tons of Coca-Cola bottle cap codes in exchange for the best waffle iron I?could get for free.
Coincidentally, my Tribune Cooks turn came not long after Mother's Day, when I?caught a glimpse of one of my favorite films honoring the hard work of moms everywhere, "Mildred Pierce,"?starring Joan Crawford.
Honey makes the sweet and savory dish of chicken and waffles even more sweet and savory. Photo by Sarah Sepanek
In the film, Joan supports the lavish lifestyle of her ungrateful daughter by slaving away in her own chain of chicken 'n' waffle diners.?Even in black and white, the platters of fried chicken and fluffy waffles looked appetizing. And with honey as our theme, it fit perfectly.
Since fried chicken is hard to do healthily, I?tried to find a waffle recipe that had at least some healthy ingredients. Whole oats and pure honey can't be that bad, right?
I?would have liked to procure some locally produced honey, but haven't come upon any this yearly in the farmer's market season. I?know the local community gardeners have some beehives near my house and previously sold jars at the farmer's market. If you can find some, take advantage.
1 cup uncooked oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake oats in a single layer in a shallow pan 10 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring after 5 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Process oats in a blender or food processor 30 seconds or until finely ground. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; stir in ground oats. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Whisk together egg yolks, milk, butter, and honey in a medium bowl; gently stir into oat mixture. Gently fold in egg whites just until blended. Cook batter in a preheated, oiled waffle iron until golden. Serve with honey, syrup or fruit preserves.
Honey Fried Chicken
3 to 4 pounds chicken pieces
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Stir the honey and vinegar together and pour over chicken; marinate for 2 to 4 hours in refrigerator, stirring occasionally. In a bowl, combine flour, bread crumbs, and cayenne pepper; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
In a cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat to 300 degrees (higher temperatures could burn honey). Remove the chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Dip the chicken in beaten egg mixture, season with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour mixture, coating evenly. Reserve 1 tablespoon of marinade to serve as sauce. Gently drop the legs, wings, and thighs into the pan for 5 to 6 minutes on the first side until browned. Turn, add the breast halves and continue cooking, adjusting the heat so the chicken browns evenly on both sides and is tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 18 minutes for dark meat and 10 to 12 minutes for the breasts.
I also suggest doing a couple practice runs with your waffle iron if you've never used one before. There are several burnt, oddly shapen and decidedly inedible waffles at the bottom of my trash can right now.
The result is as American as peanut butter and jelly, and just as messy. When done right, the waffles come out crisp on the edges, fluffy in the middle. The oats add a nuttiness and texture. The honey flavor compliments the chicken, which is juicy and sweet.
The flavors work well together on the same fork; I?wouldn't have thought meat and waffle would work, but bacon and pancakes get along just fine. Think of the waffle as a really nice side biscuit, and dig in.