Do you know what today is? Do you? It’s National Chicken and Waffles Day! Seriously, I wouldn’t lie to you guys. Now, I know what you are thinking. Why would Balanced Body be celebrating something so, um, un-fitnessy? Because every now and then it is ok to splurge. It’s called balance. You just can’t do it every week (or every month for that matter). So, throw caution to the wind and enjoy! Looking for a great recipe to make at home? Look no further. Well, look below.
Cooking Level: Intermediate (mostly because there’s lot of moving parts and, you know, hot oil).
Cooking Tip: Wear a chef’s apron or old clothes while doing this. It’s fun but can be messy!
The Fried Chicken
This is my take on a recipe by famed chef and food journalist Kenji Lopez-Alt in his AWESOME cookbook, The Food Lab. If you like cooking at all – no matter your skill level – this book is a must. Fantastic recipes and a fascinating and funny read. OK – I like my chicken spicy, so take a look at the ingredients and adjust as you see fit. This has a bit of a kick and has always been a crowd pleaser when I served it in the past.
– 3 tbsp. paprika
– 3 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
– 2 tsp. garlic powder
– 2 tsp. dried oregano
– 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
– 1 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 3 cups buttermilk
– 3 large eggs
– Kosher salt
– Ten chicken thighs. I like skin-on, bone-in because I think it tastes better and is crunchier. My wife likes boneless, skinless thighs because it is simpler to eat. So, I usually get 5 and 5.
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 4-5 cups vegetable shortening or other oil suitable for frying
1. Combine the first 7 dry goods (spice mix) in a small bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork.
2.Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, and 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and tos and turn to coat. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a gallon-sized zipper-lock freezer bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to overnight (I always do it the night before to let the buttermilk brine the chicken), flipping the bag occasionally to evenly coat all of the pieces
3. When you are done marinating/brining, mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and the spice mix in a large bowl. Add at least 3 tablespoons of the marinade from the zipper-lock bag and work it into the flour with your fingertips.
4. Remove one piece of chicken from the bag, allowing excess buttermilk to drip off, drop the chicken into the flour mixture, and toss to coat. Continue adding chicken pieces to the flour mixture one at a time until they are all in the bowl. Toss the chicken until every piece is thoroughly coated, pressing with your hands to get the flour to adhere in a thick layer.
5. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F. (NOTE: For me ten thighs usually take two racks – but I have a double oven – more on this later). Heat the shortening or oil to 425°F in any large skillet (at least 12 inches) or similar. I use two to get it going faster, but that’s just me.
6. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain the temperature, being careful not to let the fat get any hotter. A food/meat thermometer is REALLY helpful here.
SAFETY NOTE: This may be super obvious – be super careful with the hot oil. (Balanced Body is not responsible for any injury occurring).
7. One piece at a time, transfer the coated chicken to a fine-mesh strainer and shake to remove excess flour. Transfer to a wire rack(s) set on a rimmed baking sheet. Once all the chicken pieces are coated, place skin side down in the pan for those with the bone-in. The temperature should drop to 300°F; adjust the heat to maintain the temperature at 300°F for the duration of the cooking. Fry the chicken until it’s a deep golden brown on the first side, about 5-6 minutes. This is a good tip from Kenji: do not move the chicken or start checking for doneness until it has fried for at least 3 minutes, or you may knock off the coating (this is so true). Carefully flip the chicken pieces with tongs and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes longer.
MY OPINION: All you are going for here is a good color and texture. If you find you like the color and texture of your chicken before the allotted frying time, cool. Just make sure you don’t flip in the first three minutes or so. Do not worry what the internal temperature is going to be because – here is a neat trick – your going to bake it in the oven! See, that’s why you turned it on!
8. Transfer the chicken to a clean wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
9. Place the chicken in the oven. If you want to use two racks in one oven put the bone-in thighs in the middle and the boneless thighs above as they’ll cook faster. I usually find that getting the internal temp to about 150- 155 for the boneless and 155-160 for the bone-in works. I also find the time varies but it doesn’t take long, maybe 10 minutes at the most but check with a meat thermometer before then because I’ve found it can be done as soon as 3-5 minutes.
10. Remove the chicken pieces when they reach their final temperature. Now, you can season them and serve here, but where’s the fun in that? I use the same rack(s) I fried them in (put them on a paper towel-lined plate if space is needed) and set in the fridge for at least an hour (an hour works great, but you can leave them overnight if you want to serve the next day), because here is the kicker (wait for it) …YOU’RE GOING TO FRY THEM AGAIN!
While the chicken is cooling, here is another trick I’ve started doing recently (thanks Joe Weiss, BB Quality Control Guru, for the suggestion). Turn off the oil and let it cool down. Once it has cooled enough (be careful – use oven mitts if needed) get a large metal bowl and, with a sieve or cheesecloth pour the oil through it into the bowl. Coating from the first frying round will inevitably come loose and sink to the bottom skillet/wok/frying pan. When you start your second frying round, these pieces will burn and stick the chicken. It’s mostly aesthetics, but it does make a difference. Then pour oil back into your frying vessel. Add more if necessary.
When chicken is cooling start on your Belgian Waffles and Spicy Maple Butter, recipe below. Timing is everything.
12. After the chicken has cooled reheat the oil to 400 degrees. Place the chicken into the oil – you don’t have to do it one at a time, you can do it in groups or all at once if you are using two skillets. This takes about 5 minutes, flipping at once at the 2.5-minute mark. Remove from skillet, season if necessary. Serve when everything else is ready, but the quicker the better.
This is a compilation of waffle recipes I’ve read over the years. You can make a savory waffle if you’d like. This is a pretty cool cheddar and chive waffle recipe but we’re going to stick with the traditional waffle, as the combo with the spicy chicken is awesome.
– 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tbsp baking powder
– ¼ cup granulated sugar
– ½ tsp kosher salt
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 3 large eggs, separated
– ½ cup vegetable oil
– 2 cups whipping cream
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Start preheating your Belgian waffle iron, spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry goods.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form, do not go further once they make stiff peaks or they’ll come a tumblin’ down (they’ll break)
4. In a smaller bowl whisk together the yolks, heavy cream, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.
5. Whisk the wet mixture into the dry goods and mix until most of the lumps are gone, then gently fold in egg whites. Do not overmix as this will make the waffles super chewy. I’ve learned the hard way.
NOTE: Cream is heavier than milk, so the batter will thicken. If needed, you can thin a bit by adding some water.
6. Pour the batter into your preheated waffle iron and cook according to the waffle iron’s directions.
The Spicy Maple Butter
This is my own “winging it” recipe and it changes every time I make it, but this is the core. I like mine with a kick, so start small with the spice, taste while making, and add to your liking.
– ½ stick butter
– ½ cup maple syrup
– 1 tsp cayenne
– Some shakes from your favorite hot sauce (optional)
1. Melt butter in a small sauce pan
2. Add syrup until blended
3. Add cayenne until thoroughly combined
4. Shake in hot sauce
Put a waffle on a plate and drizzle a little of the maple butter on the waffle. Put the chicken on the waffle and drizzle more on top of the chicken. Serve with a salad if that makes you feel better. And enjoy!