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01/30/2014

~ Yankee-Style Southern-Fried Chicken & Waffles ~

IMG_2155I refer to my recipe for Southern fried chicken and waffles as "Yankee-style" because I have never eaten fried chicken and waffles together on the same plate below the Mason-Dixon line. I've traveled through many Southern states, and eaten a few meals in Tennesee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.  I have eaten some fine fried chicken on these travels, but, I do not recall the option of a waffle with it or underneath it.  My great Aunt (a South Carolina gal married to a PA guy) repeatedly drawled "there is no such thing as this dish in the South" every time she served it to us Yankees right here in Pennsylvania.  Read on:

IMG_1960Here in Pennsylvania (and the surrounding states), we've been putting chicken on waffles for centuries.  I grew up in Eastern PA and the Pennsylvania Dutch ("Dutch" was the English settlers slang word for "Deutsch", meaning the German speaking people) top their waffles with roasted or stewed chicken and douse it with gravy prior to serving.  When Southern cooks began migrating to the North, and vice versa, a cross-pollination probably occurred and Southern fried-chicken with waffles was born, but, I have another take on this.  I am inserting this paragraph from Tuesday's PA Dutch version post:

In Pennsylvania Dutch country, chicken and waffles is a common Sunday supper (they call "dinner" "supper" there).  The concept most likely evolved from "fried catfish and waffle" dinners served in the Philadelphis area in eateries along the Schuylkill River (whose supplying creeks were full of fresh catfish).  The Schuylkill Hotel (founded in 1813) was the first well-known place, along with the Catfish and Waffle House, located at the Schuylkill Falls, which from 1848 into the early 1900's did a thriving business purely by word-of-mouth recommendations.  It doesn't take much imagination to rationalize a reason for the people of the rural, surrounding Pennsylvania Dutch farming communities (close knit groups of family-oriented people who kept to themselves and never went out to eat) to adopt this inexpensive style of hearty eating by substituting roasted or stewed farm-raised chicken served on waffles (the Yankee version of biscuits and gravy).  That being said, it is also not much of leap to see why they wouldn't have substituted fried chicken for fried catfish, to invent fried-chicken and waffles!

IMG_1676Whatever version of chicken and waffles you're preparing, it begins with waffles.  You want them to be quite crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside, and, ones with deep, bold grooves to catch the gravy or maple syrup.  My girlfriend's yeast-risen waffles are amazing.  To get my recipe for  ~ Teresa's Easy-to-Make Overnight Belgian Waffles ~ just click on the Related Article link below.  Click on the same to get my recipe for real-deal ~ Pennsylvania-Dutch-Country Chicken & Waffles ~!

Southern-Fried Chicken (& Waffles) -- Made My Favorite Way!

IMG_2158Ask someone to name one dish they associate with Southern fare and 99 out of 100 people will say "fried chicken". It is the quintessential Southern dish.  I have some advice for cookbook authors and bloggers:  when publishing a recipe for Southern fried chicken, do not use the words "best" or "ultimate" to describe yours.  You are going to insult someone's mother or grandmother. Keep your pontifications to yourself. Publish your "favorite" recipe.

6a0120a8551282970b019aff535be7970d-800wiWhen it comes to Southern fried chicken, mine is simple.  Why?  I had two Great Aunt's who owned farms and raised chickens:  Aunt Mary (a Northern girl), and, Aunt Yula (a Southern girl). They were sisters-in-law, both living in PA.  It was not unusual for either one of them to behead some poor chicken in the morning and serve it for dinner in the evening.  When it came to frying chicken,  I do not recall any special brines or marinades.  It was a straightforward process that included a wet dip in some beaten farm-fresh eggs, and a dry dip in all-purpose flour mixed with a few dried-spices (hot sauce was not a pantry staple, and, it would be years before any of us would take our first bite of "The Colonel's 11 Herbs & Spices").  Their chicken was delicious.

IMG_2143I use a deep-fryer to fry chicken for this recipe.  It controls the heat perfectly and cleanup is a breeze.  

My Aunt Mary used a WWII era aluminum pot.  The one pictured here is my grandmother's (my Aunt Mary's sister), but it is identical.

Aunt Yula used the biggest, heaviest cast-iron skillet I ever saw.

All three of ladies cooked on wood- or coal-fired stoves.  On that note, I continue with this recipe my way.

IMG_2054For the chicken:

2, 3-4 pound frying chickens cut into 6 pieces each (no wings), or:

4  each:   bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves, thighs and legs, or:

your family's favorite combination of chicken parts (see mine below)

corn or peanut oil for deep-frying

Note:  Since every person has a IMG_2069preference, I am frying all three today.  Timing varies, so always cook "like parts" together. Breast halves are a bit more cumbersome, so, if using a deep fryer, make sure one will fit in the fryer-basket.  In my deep-fryer, I can cook 3 legs, 2 thighs or 1 breast per batch.  Never overcrowd the fryer basket!

IMG_2026For the wet and dry coatings:

6  large eggs, at room temperature, whisked together with 6 tablespoons of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

3  cups all-purpose flour

6  tablespoons corn starch (2 tablespoons for each cup of flour)

2  teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon paprika

1  teaspoon black pepper

3/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper

2  teaspoons sea salt

freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, for seasoning chicken as it comes out of the fryer

For the toppings:

room temperature butter, for slathering over the hot, crisp waffles

warmed maple syrup, for drizzling over the deep-fried chicken and hot, crisp waffles

hot sauce, your favorite brand, served at tableside for spicing things up a bit 

IMG_2042 IMG_2064~ Step 1.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, water and salt until frothy.  Set aside.  

IMG_2034In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch IMG_2079and all spices.  In a cheese shaker-type container, place 3/4 cup of the flour mixture.

IMG_2073~ Step 2. Line a large baking pan w/parchment.  Pat chicken dry and arrange on pan.  Lightly season tops w/sea salt and black pepper. While using the shaker container, pick each piece up and lightly coat it on all sides with seasoned flour.

IMG_2085~ Step 3.  Preheat deep-fryer to 360 degrees and set up your chicken frying assembly line. Pictured from left to right:  pan of seasoned chicken, bowl of whisked egg mixture, larger bowl of seasoned flour and preheated deep fryer.  In the front, there is a timer and a pair of tongs.  In the back there is a second large baking pan lined w/parchment and fitted with a cooling rack.

IMG_2092 IMG_2088~ Step 4.  I start with the small pieces first.  One at a time, dip 3 chicken legs in the egg mixture and allow excess liquid to drizzle back into the bowl.

IMG_2094Dredge each leg in seasoned flour and shake all excess flour back into the bowl.

IMG_2107 IMG_2104Lower each piece into the fry basket as you work, as quickly as you can, dipping and dredging the next two.  Close the lid and allow to fry about 13-14 minutes.  Repeat this process with the remaining three chicken legs. Repeat this process with the thighs, cooking them two at a time for 13-14 minutes as well.

When chicken comes out of deep-fryer, pot or skillet, immediately season with salt and pepper.

IMG_2124 IMG_2117~ Step 5.  As crazy as this is going to sound, the big, white-meat chicken breasts are going to cook in less time than the smaller dark-meat legs and thighs.  

I dip and dredge the breasts one at a time, and cook them one at a time for 9-10 minutes.

IMG_2132Note: Throughout the frying process, I do not keep the previously fried chicken warm in a low oven.  That would just dry it out. In fact, the rest period does it good, allowing all of the juices time to redistributute throughout the fried chicken. Instead, I do this:  

IMG_1819When the chicken is fried, I place the entire pan in a 350 degree oven for 5-6 minutes to crisp up and reheat, along with the pan of waffles, as per that recipe's directions too.  Remove from oven, portion, and serve immediately, with softened butter, warmed maple syrup and hot sauce at the table:

IMG_2137Go ahead, fix yourself a plate to your liking, and dig in:

IMG_2196I adore the moist and juicy white meat:

IMG_2310I'm Dreaming of a Summer picnic instead of a Winter Superbowl:

IMG_2270Yankee-Style Southern-Fried Chicken & Waffles:  Recipe yields 8 servings of deliciousness.

Special Equipment List:  waffle iron and all special equipment specified in recipe; whisk; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1'2" baking pans; parchment paper; 1-cup cheese-shaker type container; deep-fryer preheated to manufacturer's specifications; tongs; large cooling rack; paper towels

6a0120a8551282970b019aff52d2b5970b-800wiCook's Note:  If, for any number of reasons, deep-frying is not your "cup of tea" don't let that stop you from making this recipe.  ~ My E-Z "Real" Roasted Chicken Breasts ~ (found in Categories 3, 19 or 20), will deliver crispy edible skin and moist succulent meat too!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 

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