When my wife and I got engaged registering for kitchen items was like the high point for me. Before everyone starts throwing stones I’ll clarify, I really didn’t enjoy the engagement planning part of our relationship. Marrying my wife was and remains the best decision I ever made, but the best part of the engagement was registering. I know I’m not alone.

We registered for every single small appliance Bed Bath and Beyond had. Including this waffle iron that I was sure I would use every Saturday. Heck, I was convinced I would make the batter the night before and have waffles 3-4 days a week. Until this recipe I used it twice. Twice. Who has time for waffles? 

                There is this dive bar pub in Germantown called 4 Pegs that serves some pretty amazing pub food. One of their better options in my opinion is their Chicken and Waffles. This recipe is my version of this classic bar food. It’s important to think of each component of this dish


Chicken and Waffles

Serves: 4              Prep Time: 30 minutes                   Cook Time: 30 minutes


For the Brine:

4 cups hot water

½ cup salt

1 Tbsp Cumin

1 Tbsp Chili Powder

½ Tbsp Black Pepper

½ Tbsp Onion Powder


Chicken:

2 Chicken Breasts Butterflied and flattened

Flour for the dredge

Milk/Egg Dredge

Panko Bread Crumbs

Salt and Pepper

2 cups canola Oil


Sauce:

¼ cup bourbon

¼ cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

4 dashes cayenne

Salt and Pepper

¼ Mayo (optional)


Waffle Batter:

1 ¾ Cup Flour

2 Tbsp Sugar

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Salt

2 Eggs

1 ¾ Cup Milk

½ Cup Oil/Butter

(Savory Seasoning of Choice)

                Start out by mixing all of the ingredients for the brine into a large plastic container. Stir until everything is dissolved and combined. Butterfly the chicken, and between layers of wax paper give it a few whacks with meat mallet to get everything even in thickness. You aren’t looking to flatten the chicken, just get an even thickness. Add the chicken to the brine and allow at least an hour, but up to 24 hours, for it to soak and absorb flavor.

                You can make the waffles a head of time if you would like. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Since this waffle is for a savory dish add cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, or any of your favorite savory spices. If you really like that traditional sweet waffle, then just leave the savory spices out. This is a good layer for you to be creative on. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and the other wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Don’t over mix. Depending on the size your waffle iron, ladle out the batter onto a hot and lightly greased waffle iron. My waffle iron makes 8 inch waffles, and I find about ½ a cup of batter makes a waffle that isn’t oozing down the sides of the iron onto the counter top. Prepare all the waffles with the batter. If you are making these in advance put cooled waffles in a zip top bag and throw them in the freezer. They should last for a week or so.

                For the sauce, bring the bourbon and maple syrup to a boil. Boil and stir constantly until it has reduced by nearly half and thickened up again. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the Dijon mustard, cayenne and salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into a small bowl and cool completely in the fridge. Once the sauce has cooled completely, stir in the mayo. If you don’t care for mayo, the sauce is excellent without it as well. I like the extra creamy flavor that mayo brings, but you certainly can eat the sauce as it is.

                In a large skillet heat up the canola oil over medium high heat. 2 cups of oil is a lot. Depending on the size of your skillet you want about ½ an inch to 3.4 of an inch of oil. I have a large skillet and it takes about 2 cups, but use enough oil to get to that ½ - 3/4 inch line. You want the oil hot, around 350-375. If you don’t have a thermometer I like to use the wooden spoon trick. If you place the end of a wooden spoon in hot oil it should immediately sizzle and bubble. If it passes the hot spoon test, you’re ready to fry. If the oil is too cold the breading on your chicken will be mushy or worse, fall off. Hot oil is essential to crispy chicken.

                While your oil is heating, remove your chicken from the brine and rinse with cool water. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. In a grocery bag (or bowl if you prefer) place all the chicken and about 1 cup of flour. Lightly coat the chicken with flour. In a separate bowl stir milk together with one egg. Dip the lightly floured chicken into the milk bath. To your flour dredge add panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper. Return the chicken to the flour and bread crumb mixture and coat thoroughly.  I like use a plastic grocery bag for this process for several reasons. One, it makes clean up a breeze. You just simply throw the excess away, bag and all. Secondly, I can work the chicken through the crumbs without touching it or the crumbs. By massaging it through the bag I avoid the “monster” fingers you get with wet fingers and dry flour.

                Drop the breaded chicken in the hot oil. Don’t over crowd the skillet. If you put too much in the skillet at once it will drop the temperature of the oil and you will end up with greasy soggy chicken. Cook in the oil for 5-6 minutes and turn. The bottom should have a beautiful golden brown color. Cook an additional 5-6 minutes and remove from the skillet. Time to construct your sandwich.

                Waffles are not typically crusty enough to standup to this hearty sandwich. So grab that toaster and toast each waffle until golden brown and has a tougher crust on it. Add your sauce to the waffle. Put the chicken on the waffle, add a fresh tomato slice (the acid is a really nice addition to break up the richness of the sandwich) add a little more sauce and that top waffle. Eat while it’s still hot.