Yeah, when you're tired, hungry, and the kids are whining, it's a little overwhelming to bread chicken, wash goop off hands, pour batter into the waffle iron, keep an eye on frying chicken, try to not burn the waffles, while salting the freshly cooked chicken as soon as I pull it out. I tried to make everything at once, hoping to speed up the process and get dinner on the table sooner. Lesson learned.
BUT, don't freak out on me. I want you to try this. I'll give you some tips and tricks to make sure this is an easy meal to pull together, even after a long, hectic day.
Crispy Chicken & Scallion Waffle Sandwiches
Recipe adapted from Jeff Mauro
For the chicken:
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1 lb boneless chicken tenders
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp paprika
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp ancho chile powder
3 large eggs
For the waffles:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup seltzer
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped scallions
1. For the chicken: In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, hot sauce, kosher salt, granulated garlic and granulated onion. Place the chicken into a re-sealable bag and pour the buttermilk marinade over the chicken. Marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, in the fridge. [Note: I strongly recommend overnight]
|Simple, flavorful marinade|
2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and have 2 baking sheets with wire racks set inside. Preheat a waffle maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. In a large cast-iron skillet, bring about an inch of oil to 350 degrees F, give or take. FYI, I did not keep track of the temperature. I had the burner on about medium to medium-high heat.
3. In a baking dish, add the flour and season it with the paprika and some salt and pepper. In another baking dish, add the panko and season it with the ancho chile powder and some salt and pepper. In another dish, beat the eggs. [Note: the trick to seasoning a breading line-up is make sure you can SEE the seasoning. As Jeff mentions on his show, "if you can't see it, you can't taste it."]
|I have a 1/2 sharp, 1/2 sweet paprika. Love it!!|
|Not all chile powders are spicy! This one is very smokey and deep in flavor.|
4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip off. Then dredge the chicken first in the flour, then in the eggs and finally coat the chicken in the panko.
5. Fry the chicken in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, until each side of the chicken is golden brown and the interior reads 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the fried chicken to one of the prepared baking sheets and place into the warm oven to stay warm and crispy while you make the waffles.
|Always, always, ALWAYS season as soon as it comes out of the fryer.|
6. For the waffles: Whisk the oil, vanilla and eggs in a medium bowl until combined. Add the buttermilk and seltzer.
|Fairly basic waffle ingredients|
7. In another bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, table salt and baking soda to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in the scallions.
|I was conservative with my onions for Gavin. But add more if you like!|
8. Spray the waffle maker with some nonstick cooking spray. Pour the batter in the waffle iron and cook until golden. Set aside in a warm oven on the other prepared baking sheet until ready to serve.
Ok so first, I just want to say that These. Are. WONDERFUL. Even my occasionally picky Gavin, whom I was sure was going to ask to eat his waffles separate from the chicken, ate a fully assembled sandwich. Rob said at least twice that I could, at the very least, make the chicken again. Gavin swiped two more waffles from the platter as I tried to clear the table. I love dinners like this!!
But before you run off to the kitchen to check your fridge and pantry, I want to let you in on some things I learned from making this. If you haven't figured it out already, there is a LOT to keep track of here!
Get Ahead/Make Your Life Easier Tips:
- Follow the instructions exactly and focus on the chicken, then the waffles, keeping the finished food warm in the oven.
- Make the waffles ahead of time. Pull them out of the waffle iron when they're just shy of that glorious brown and let cool. Then crisp/brown/heat them up in the toaster later while the chicken is frying.
- Bread the chicken ahead of time. You could either freeze the breaded, uncooked chicken to make WAY later or just refrigerate until you're ready to fry them up.
- Do the waffles and bread the chicken and REALLY be on the ball for a fantastic post-long-day meal!