Fried Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches
Before we can dive, mouth first, into this post we need to discuss one important topic. It’s more so answering a critical question, really. It happens to be the biggest question ever asked in the food world. The answer to which is the most vital piece of information that can ever be granted. You might be wondering what the question is. I’ll tell you that it’s a question I’m most often asked. Perhaps you’ve been asked it too. You’d be surprised how may people inquire about such a topic. Pancakes, waffles or french toast? My answer is always waffles. Waffles to the very end of my existence. Waffles for life. Waffles, always and forever. Waffles for the win. And not just because this happens to be a waffle post, no, but because crispy on the outside, moist on the inside waffles are to die for. Although not on pancake days. Tall stacks of warm flapjacks with butter and maple syrup, perhaps with a few chocolate chips thrown into the batter? Definitely pancakes. Pancakes to the very end of my existence. Pancakes for life. Pancakes, always and forever. Pancakes for the win. Yet french toast, however, is kind of the best thing on the planet, isn’t it? Challah or brioche french toast with a dusting of powdered sugar, perhaps even stuffed with cream cheese and berries? Most definitely french toast, hands down one hundred percent. French toast to the very end of my existence. French toast for life. French toast, always and forever. French toast for the win. Do you see my dilemma? I can never get anywhere with this.
Over the weekend I was housesitting/cat sitting for a friend. It was a nice get-away for me, as said friend lives by the beach. Now I know what you must be thinking, “But Jonathan, you hate the beach!” If you weren’t thinking it before, you’re thinking it now. And you’re right, I’m not a beach person—I’m not much of a sun person really—but I am a cooler weather person. So I’m all for houses by the beach and gloomy overcast days. I decided to get some work done—in between constantly taking pictures of her cat and getting on his nerves with hugs and kisses of course—while I was over there. I always think it’s fun to cook in someone else’s kitchen. You get thrown out of your comfort zone, out of your element. It’s sort of weird preparing for a post in a space I’m not familiar with, especially since my friend also bakes and cooks and shoots and writes. It’s like walking around in someone else’s shoes for a day, ones that take you a while to get used to. However, I did manage and I actually had a lot of fun shooting somewhere different. Somewhere that wasn’t my own house for a change. I’m sure Miller, my college studio lighting teacher would be oh so proud of me for that, so this post is for him for forcing me out of my comfort zone (it only took me a year to do it). In the end I love how the pictures turned out, but lets be honest, shooting with the cutest cat in the world, certainly helped. He’s a hoot, constantly sneaking up trying to get food, thinking he can’t be seen. Oh I can see you Jules Stevens, I can see you and you’re adorable. I guess when it comes to fried chicken and waffles none of us can keep away.
A little disclaimer before we begin: THIS IS A LONG POST. GET THOSE SCROLLING FINGERS READY. ENJOY!
The first thing we need to do is work on the waffles. These aren’t your ordinarily plain, everyday waffles, no. These are over-the-top-waffles-on-steriods waffles. They’re the king of waffles, all other waffles can just go on home now that these have arrived. What makes these waffles so incredibly irresistible and dare I say it, even sinful (shhhh you didn’t hear it from me)? It’s probably the mounds of crispy bacon or all the cheese, maybe even the scallions. Although scallions aren’t sinful.
Anyhow, yes we’re making bacon cheddar green onion waffle as our bread for our sandwiches (Waffles for sandwich bread? Get out of here!!). Why? Well ask yourself this, why not? Chicken and waffles are a big thing so why not make it into a savory sandwich? I’m all about the waffles and chicken sandwiches. I approve. I’m only mad that I didn’t think about this before now. Waffle sandwiches are the bee’s knees, if they had any. They’re the cat’s pajamas, if they wore any. How did we get here? What am I talking about? Waffles….ya’ll are distracting me.
Let’s start by making the simplest of waffle batters. The base of this recipe is just an everyday buttermilk waffle recipe, with a few twists of course. We’re adjusting it to make them less sweet and more savory.
Into a large bowl dump in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar (because I happen to think brown sugar and bacon are perfect companions, long lost lovers) and black pepper. Make sure it’s plenty of black pepper as that will give the waffles amazing flavor, plus I also like the way the pepper flecks look in the waffles. Indulge me friends.
Do me the grandest of favors and always always grind your own black pepper. Freshly cracked black pepper just tastes better. You can actually see the coarse texture and taste the difference. The powdered stuff isn’t as potent. In fact, do yourself the favor and grind it yourself. You’ll never go back.
We’re mixing this by hand because waffle and pancake batter is the easiest thing you can ever mix by hand (and you’ll look like the Davy Crocket of cooking and people will be jealous saying, “Look at them, they think they’re so cool making everything by hand!”) plus you never want to over-mix these batters so doing it by hand will prevent you from over-mixing.
**Tip: Mix the batter with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula for best results. Avoid using a whisk as that will completely smooth out the batter and you never want a completely smooth pancake or waffle batter. The key is to have it be slightly lumpy.**
Crack the eggs into a separate small bowl. Doing this will allow you to make sure the eggs are alright and are shell free. Also it’ll allow you to whisk the eggs prior to adding them to the dry ingredients, which helps to evenly combine everything together later on.
This is why I love this cat. I mean seriously crawled from around the window out of the drapes, right in the center of my photograph to try and sneak off some milk, but stops to pose for the camera. My kind of cat, he has his priorities straight.
Let’s turn our attention back to the waffles shall we?
Give the eggs a whisk.
We have to make room for the wet ingredients, so make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, right in the middle of the bowl.
Pour in the eggs.
Next up is the melted butter. What’s a waffle without butter? What’s life without butter? Whoa, things just got philosophical.
And we definitely can’t forget about the buttermilk, these are buttermilk waffles after all. If you don’t have buttermilk you can use regular milk that’s okay.
**Tip: If you have lemon juice or vinegar on hand, throw some into the whole milk and let it stand for a few minutes. BOOM instant buttermilk.**
I like using buttermilk because it makes the waffles moist and tender in the inside and crispy on the outside. Isn’t that what we’re looking for in waffles? Does that not the perfect waffles make? (A little Yoda speak for the fans out there).
And those are all the wet ingredients. If these were going to be sweet waffles, I’d add more sugar, leave out the black pepper and add vanilla extract. But these aren’t sweet waffles. They’re savory waffles, soon to be buns to a yummy sandwich waffles. So we cut the sugar, added the black pepper and disinvited the vanilla extract. It’s the way of life, sorry vanilla. Try again next time.
Give it all a stir until just combined. I repeat until just combined. Do not over-mix the batter. I won’t forgive you for it. (That’s a lie, I totally will). It should be slightly lumpy.
Now that’s all fine and dandy and wonderful but where’s the bacon? Where’s the cheddah?! Where are the green onions? Where Jonathan?!?! WHERE?!?!
We’re getting to that part. Hold your horses. We’re saving the best for last. (Or holding out for dramatic affect). Take your pick. Either one works. Both are true in this case. I was saving the best for last and holding out for dramatic affect. Did it work? Please tell me it did. Or lie to me and say it did. I’m not picky.
So we need bacon.
I’m using thick cut bacon so we can actually taste it. I cooked it, as you can see. I think it goes without saying, but just in case I’ll say it anyway, the bacon needs to be cooked prior to adding it to the batter. But we all knew that already, didn’t we?
I don’t like to cook my bacon in a skillet on the stovetop because that can get messy fast. So what I do instead is place the bacon (on a single layer) on a baking sheet and pop it into a 400°F oven and leave it in there for about 10 minutes, flip it over and cook for another 5 minutes or until crispy and golden. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, to drain. Allow to cool and then give it a chop.
Perfect no fuss no muss bacon every time.
**Tip: To make it even easier, line the baking sheet with foil and then you’ll have an simple clean-up!**
So chop up the bacon (I like large chunk) and add it to the batter.
Throw in the shredded cheddar cheese. If you’re not a fan of cheddar cheese you can use whatever cheese you’d like (within reason). Don’t be adding goat cheese or brie in here. Not that there is anything wrong with those cheeses, they’re fantastic. It’s just that they won’t go with the bacon or green onions. But a pepper jack or a monterey jack or a white cheddar or a gruyere cheese would be phenomenal!
Last but certainly not least is the green onions or scallions, if you prefer. Give the onions a thin slice.
Add them to the batter.
By now your bowl will be overflowing with yumminess. Did you use a big enough bowl? I never do. Only this time I did, so I guess I was lying.
Carefully and ever so gently fold in the ingredients. I say carefully and gently only because these are sacred ingredients. Too tasty to break up or mash.
Stand back and admire this thing of beauty. You created this. What’s that? It’s not cooked yet? Well I know! It’s still a gorgeous sight! No? Fine, let’s cook these waffles then.
Get a waffle iron preheated, it should be hot and ready for you, not the other way around. I tend to leave it preheating while I’m whipping up the batter. I should have said that earlier huh? Well, I’m saying it now.
I wish I had a nifty tip or trick on how to make waffles without a waffle iron, but I’m no magician. Sorry folks, if you don’t have a waffle iron, you simply can’t make waffles and that makes me sad. But then I think about waffles and I get happy again.
Lightly grease your waffle iron with cooking spray. I do so even if it’s supposed to be “non-stick.” It just prevents my waffles from sticking. Really it prevents me from pulling out my hair and crying on the kitchen floor because my waffles are stuck in the iron and won’t come out. The tragedy. It’s heart breaking.
Pour in about ½ cup of batter in each waffle cavity. This might change and depends on the size of your waffle iron. You might have the circle kind and those hold less batter, so adjust accordingly. You don’t want an overflow of batter which would waste a precious commodity. Batter that can be used for waffles. More waffles to eat. See?
Cook waffles according to your waffle iron instructions or look onto the knobs and buttons to direct you. This waffle iron had a knob that you’d turn depending on how brown you’d like your waffles. I left it in between medium and dark. It makes the waffles crispy. Overall it took about 4 to 6 minutes.
Place the cooked waffles onto a cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet. This will allow us to warm up the waffles in the oven later on when we get ready to assemble our sandwiches. The cooling rack will make the waffles crispy in the oven.
Continue cooking the waffles until all the batter is used.
And with a snap of our fingers and all the magical powers granted to me by the internet, our waffles are done.
At this point you can call it a day and just eat bacon cheddar green onion waffles and be happy as a clam. BUT why settle for just that when you can go over the top and really have an epic meal? Just proceed to the fried chicken ladies and gentlemen because if you don’t you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. You’ll wake up in a cold sweat, night after night, screaming out loud “Fried chicken, fried chicken, FRIED CHICKEN!” Maybe that’s just me though.
Anyhow, for the chicken.
I have here a few chicken cutlets that I cut in half. That’s just me being super lazy. The cutlets are thin and make it perfect for fast frying. I don’t have time to wait for thick pieces of chicken to fully cook. I need to eat my fried chicken waffle sandwiches as soon as possible.
Heads up, this is buttermilk fried chicken. One, because we already had extra buttermilk from the waffles and two, because buttermilk fried chicken is really the best. It makes the chicken super tender and moist. You can ask around if you don’t believe me. Although if someone says differently, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Trust me.
Pour the buttermilk over the chicken.
This next step is optional but I really like the added kick, throw in some hot sauce. Any kind you have on hand. You won’t be able to taste the heat and burn your mouth and tongue or anything. It’ll just give the chicken added flavor.
Toss the chicken around in the buttermilk and hot sauce. You can do this step before the waffles, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to sit and allow the buttermilk to permeate the chicken making it more tender and juicy and moist. But if you don’t have the time or if you forgot, then don’t worry about it. I hope you like dry chicken. I’m kidding, it won’t be dry.
Now get the dredge (flour coating) ready. Grab a shallow dish and throw in some flour. Regular all-purpose flour will do and season it with a few things.
Toss the flour and seasonings with a fork or a whisk or your hands or a pair of tongs. I used a pair of tongs just because that’s what I used to coat the chicken with. It saves my fingers from getting all gooey and gunky.
Ok, we’re ready to start coating and dredging the chicken. We’re double dipping it, so grab a piece of chicken and drop it into the flour. Pat and turn over to coat both sides evenly. Return the chicken to the buttermilk and flip. Finally pass it through the flour once more. Coat both sides, pressing the flour into the chicken to create a thick crust.
**Tip: Double dipping the chicken will give it a super crunchy exterior which is perfect for fried chicken. It really makes a difference.**
Repeat this process until all the chicken has been coated in the same manner, placing the pieces on a cooling rack positioned over a baking sheet.
**Tip: If I can give you just one tip when it comes to frying chicken. Just one piece of advice—you know, aside from using buttermilk and double dipping it—it would be to allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes, once coated, on a cooling rack. The air with slightly dry out the coating and will make sure it sticks to the chicken. It helps when you fry it because the flour coating will stay on and it will get really crispy.**
While the chicken is resting, you can preheat the oil. I like to fry my chicken in a cast iron skillet. No particular reason other than I feel like it really gets the job done and it’s heavy duty enough to fry chicken. You can use whatever cooking oil you’d like, even vegetable shortening if you prefer. I like to fry with canola oil.
Once the oil is hot you can fry the chicken. Do not over-crowd the pan. A few pieces at a time is okay, you’ll have to fry the chicken in batches.
**Note: If you put too many pieces all at once, the oil might overflow causing a grease fire but also you’ll drop the temperature of the oil down and the chicken won’t cook properly.**
Fry for about 5 minutes on the first side, flip it over (once golden brown and crispy) and continue to cook for another 4 minutes. Remember, the chicken will cook fast as it is thin.
Place the cooked chicken on another cooling rack, don’t place it on the same one where the raw chicken was. That’s cross contaminating and you could get sick with all sorts of weirdo raw chicken diseases. No one wants that. If you’ve run out of racks you can place it on a baking sheet. This will allow us to warm up the chicken later on, in the oven, once we’re ready to assemble our sandwiches, which is soon. Soon I tell you!
So normally with any chicken and waffles dish, you’re supposed to place the chicken over the waffles and then drizzle maple syrup all over. Fried chicken and maple syrup? That’s a little too much for me. I’m not much for overly sweet on my savory things. But we need some kind of sauce for our sandwiches, or else it’d be dry and sort of one dimensional. I’m trying to stick to some of the classic dish so I came up with a maple mustard sauce. Mostly because I love mustard with fried chicken, in any sandwich really.
So we’ll be needing some maple syrup and some mustards.
**Note: Make sure you use real honest to goodness 100% maple syrup. The corn syrupy kind we had as kids wouldn’t work in this sauce. It’s way too sweet.**
So whisk together the maple syrup, spicy brown mustard (or dijon if that’s what you have on hand) and yellow mustard.
All the components to the world’s best sandwich are now complete. We’re ready to assemble, but before we begin you might want to pop those baking sheets full of waffles and chicken in the oven for a few minutes to warm them through and recrunchify the outside.
We begin with a waffle.
And then of course some chicken.
(Are you seeing that crunchy golden brown chicken?!?!)
A few slices of tomatoes and avocado, because we have to be healthy.
You know something will be delicious if there is avocado involved. Am I right ladies and gentlemen?
A handful of leafy greens (look mamma I’m being healthy) and a dousing of our maple mustard sauce.
You can have the sandwich, just like that, open faced with only one waffle, if you’re watching what you eat. BUT if you’re like me and don’t care, go ahead and place that other bacon cheddar green onion waffle right on top. You go ahead and celebrate. It’s a sandwich, go all the way. Tomorrow you can worry about what you’re eating, but today, today you live.
And now that my friends is the world’s best sandwich ever known to man and woman. I mean, where do you even begin? How can we possibly even dig into something so beautiful? I just want to stare at it.
Before you start to say that this is way too decadent for you, think about this, it’s not like you eat this every single day! Once in a while you’re allowed to have fun and live. I mean after all, we have tomatoes and greens and avocado in it. We’re doing our part to be healthy. Plus the last post was totally healthy so we kind of deserve this, don’t you think?
These are really awesome (aside from their amazing taste) but they’re perfect for gatherings or parties because you can cut them in half and you don’t have to worry about them being hot or warm. They’re just as delicious, if not better, at room temperature. That might sound weird and maybe it is, mainly because I actually like cold fried chicken. Am I the only one?
Let’s just take a moment to revel in the fact that we’re using waffles as our sandwich buns. I mean, seriously! WAFFLES as sandwich bread! Throw in some crunchy fried chicken, a maple mustard sauce, and avocado and I’m there. You had me at waffles, really. Or I guess I should say, I had myself at waffles. Today is definitely a waffle day.
Now I know this recipe might not be for everyone. Some might scoff and pout and say I’m crazy for creating such a post, but you can totally take the recipes for what they are and make them by themselves. You have a bacon cheddar green onion waffle recipe now, and if you wanted just the fried chicken, well now you have that too. You can use the same technique for bone-in chicken and have traditional buttermilk fried chicken any night of the week. Serve it with mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, or a hearty salad, and if some bacon cheddar waffles make it to the table, like biscuits, well that would be a-okay with me.
Bacon Cheddar Green Onion Waffles
Traditional buttermilk waffles get a recipe makeover with a few favorite ingredients. Bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions turn these plain waffles into waffles extraordinaire. The perfect companion to any fried chicken.
yield: about 15 waffles, depending on waffle iron size
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (55 grams) light-brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon (8 grams) baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons (6 grams) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (4 grams) salt
- 2 teaspoons (14 grams) freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- ⅓ cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 cups (484 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
- 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 cup (100 grams) cheddar cheese, shredded
- 5 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced
- cooking spray, for waffle iron
1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Make a well in the center of the bowl and set aside.
3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk together. Pour into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter and buttermilk. Using a wooden spoon, stir the waffle batter until just combined. It should be sightly lumpy. If the batter appears to be too thick, add a splash of buttermilk and stir until pouring consistency is reached. Fold in the cooked chopped bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.
4. Lightly grease the waffle iron with cooking spray or melted butter. Pour in about ½ cup batter in each waffle cavity, more or less depending on size of waffle iron. Cook until the waffles are golden brown and crispy. Mine were about 4 to 6 minutes. Place the cooked waffles on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Place in a 200° F oven to keep the waffles warm until ready to eat. Continue cooking until all the batter is used up. Serve warm with maple syrup or maple mustard sauce (recipe follows). Or make them into fried chicken and waffle sandwiches (recipe follows). Waffles will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. To rewarm, place the waffles on a baking sheet in a 300° F oven for about 5 minutes until crispy. Enjoy!
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Whether you’re using boneless chicken breast or bone-in chicken pieces, this fried chicken recipe will leave you wanting more and more and more. Crunchy on the outside, moist and juicy in the inside. Perfect inside two pieces of bacon cheddar green onion waffles.
yield: 4 servings
- 4 chicken breast cutlets, cut in half so you end up with 8 half pieces
- 1½ cups (363 grams) buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) hot sauce, optional
- 1½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) black pepper
- canola oil for frying
1. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Cover with buttermilk and add the hot sauce, if using. Toss together until evenly mixed and all the chicken is submerged in the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have the time, this step is not crucial but it will help make the chicken tender and juicy.
2. In a shallow dish combine the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper. To coat the chicken, grab a piece from the buttermilk bowl, slightly drain off, and throw into the flour. Pat the flour into the chicken, on both sides. Return to the buttermilk bowl (with the rest of the chicken) and coat both sides. Place the chicken back into the flour, once more, and coat both sides. We’re double dipping the chicken. Lay the coated chicken on a rack placed over a baking sheet. Repeat in this manner until all the chicken is coated. Allow the coated chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes, this will allow the fry to dry a bit and stick to the chicken.
3. In the meantime, heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy duty pan, such as a cast iron skillet. Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches. Cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, turn over once golden brown and crispy, continue to cook for another 4 minutes on the other side. Drain the chicken and place on a separate rack set over a baking sheet. You can keep the cooked chicken warm in a 200°F oven until all the chicken is fried and you’re ready to serve. Make into fried chicken and waffle sandwiches with bacon cheddar green onion waffles (recipe above) and layer with lettuce, sliced tomato, avocado, and maple mustard sauce (recipe follows). Enjoy!
Maple Mustard Sauce
Perfect for all your dipping needs. Slather it on burger, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, or serve it along side buttermilk fried chicken.
yield: ½ cup
- ¼ cup (50 ml) real maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) yellow mustard
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) spicy brown mustard or dijon mustard
1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Will keep in refrigerator for 1 week. Enjoy!