Chicken + waffles = the best breakfast food ever. Need I say more? Didn’t think so. On to the recipe!
Just kidding. I’m not going to leave you guys with that, but I’m not sure what to say that isn’t something like “OMG, go make these now,” even though that’s pretty much how I feel. I try to reserve my gushing for times when a recipe is truly gush-worthy, and well, this one is.
When we knew for sure Clara’s birthday party would be during brunch, I immediately suggested chicken and waffles. Eric was totally with me, despite the fact that we had no idea how we would fry a bunch of chicken in advance of the party. As usual, America’s Test Kitchen came to our rescue with a recipe for chicken nuggets that could be frozen and reheated. Score!
Let me tell you about these chicken nuggets. They’re double battered, moist and juicy on the inside, and perfectly crunchy on the outside. Yes, they are deep fried and totally worth the work/calories. We combined the fried chicken with our favorite waffle recipe and a syrup recipe from our friend Rebecca to create the ultimate chicken and waffle recipe. It’s fantastic in every way, and I’m still thinking about these tasty little bites more than three weeks after Clara’s party.
- YIELD: 4 main course servings
1 batch homemade waffles
For the chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs, crushed
2 teaspoons onion powder
¾ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 large egg whites
4 cups peanut or vegetable oil
For the syrup:
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the waffles and reheat in the oven when ready to serve.
To make the chicken, cut each breast diagonally into three pieces, then cut each third into ½-inch thick pieces. Whisk together the water, tablespoon of salt and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl. Once the salt has dissolved, add the chicken pieces, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, panko, onion powder, teaspoon of salt, onion powder, pepper, garlic powder and baking soda. In another shallow dish, whisk the egg whites until foamy.
Coat half the chicken with the egg whites, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Do not discard the flour mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it reaches 350º. If planning to serve right away, also heat the oven to 200º to keep the chicken warm. Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Place the coated chicken back in the flour mixture and turn to coat, again pressing gently to adhere.
Fry half the chicken until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Drain the chicken on the wire rack and keep warm in the oven. Bring oil back to 350º and fry the remaining chicken.
To make ahead and freeze, place the cooked and cooled nuggets in a zip-top bag and freeze up to 1 month. When ready to serve, place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and reheat at 350º for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through.
To make the syrup, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, cook for about 30 seconds, then whisk in the maple syrup. Once the syrup is warm, whisk in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat when needed.