Chicken and Waffles has long been considered southern comfort soul food. Sweet waffles with butter and syrup is eaten alongside crispy fried chicken for breakfast. The exact origin of the dish isn’t known for sure. The Wells Supper Club in Harlem claims to have started serving the dish in 1938 during the time known as the Jazz Age. Chicken and Waffles were dished up as a late-night snack serving as both dinner for that night and breakfast the next day. There is also a savory version that has its roots in the Pennsylvania Dutch traditions. A plain waffle is topped with picked chicken and gravy. But the tradition may have begun as far back as the 1770’s when Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France. Soon after the combination showed up in cookbooks. The South caught on to the idea and popularized the dish.
The combination of fried chicken and waffles may sound a little odd. But beef and pork products accompanying a waffle is perfectly acceptable; corned Beef Hash, ham, bacon and sausages with waffles doesn’t raise an eyebrow. But chicken does, in some, if not most circles.
To give this traditional dish a makeover I added sweet potatoes to the waffle and rather then serving the chicken and waffles side-by-side with syrup I layered them and smothered it all with gravy. But not just any gravy. A sweet and savory caramelized onion gravy.
It was a picture of comfort with the tender fried chicken sitting atop a bed of thick, fluffy waffles flecked with orange specks of sweet potato and sage. All smothered in a peppery, creamy, white gravy swimming with pieces of richly caramelized onion. The gravy and especially the onions, pulled all the flavors together.
Sweet Potato Waffles
2½ cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sage
½ cups milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 sweet potato, cooked and mashed
3 eggs, separated
Cream of tartar
Preheat waffle iron. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat egg yolks into the milk, add oil and pumpkin and beat wet ingredients until smooth, then stir them into dry ingredients. Beat egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar and fold them into waffle batter. Bake the waffles according to the directions for your iron. Makes 7.
Caramelized Onion Gravy
1 large onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
¾ cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper (extra pepper)
Add the Olive Oil and sliced onion(season with salt and pepper) to a large skillet and cook over low-medium heat for about 35-45 minutes until onions become very soft and turn a rich, caramel-brown color. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Melt the tablespoon of butter over low-medium heat and whisk in the flour. Let the roux cook until it begins to get bubbly. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens. If it does not thicken add in another tablespoon of flour. If too thick whisk in a little more chicken broth or milk. When you get it to the correct consistency add the caramelized onions back in.
Fried Chicken Tenders
1 pound boneless, skinless Chicken Breast
Salt and pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons paprika
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
Place your chicken breast between Saran Wrap and pound out using a mallet or frying pan. Slice your breasts into tender size pieces. Season well with salt and pepper
In a shallow bowl or pan mix the flour and paprika together.
Dredge each tender in the flour mixture.
Fry tenders in a cast-iron skillet in an inch to two inches of oil about five minutes on each side. Set on paper towels to soak up excess grease.