Chicken and waffles

Here is the story of how chicken and waffles became a thing. Back in the 1930s when jazz greats in Harlem finished their gigs for the  night they were hungry. But the wee  hours of the morning are neither dinner or breakfast time.

Fried chicken is a Southern thing and many of those who populated Harlem at the time had migrated from the South. Waffles was the nod to breakfast and provided a sturdy platform for the chicken and became especially delicious when drizzled with warm maple syrup.

At least in Middle Tennessee you can barely bump into a restaurant menu that doesn’t offer chicken and waffles for brunch. But, trust me, you can make a better version at home with a few simple tricks.

Trick One: Eggo Thick Belgian Style Waffles. Yes, frozen waffles. Eggo gets surprisingly close to the taste of an authentic Belgian waffle and, obviously, popping a frozen waffle in the toaster is a lot easier than making your own from scratch.

Trick Two: Chicken fingers. Nobody wants to try to negotiate bone-in fried chicken with a knife and fork. Plus when you fry chicken fingers as soon as both sides are golden brown they’re done so no worries about underdone chicken.

Trick Three: Soaking the chicken fingers in buttermilk. White meat chicken can dry out pretty quickly but if you soak them in buttermilk for an hour or two, they stay moist and tender.

Trick Four: Don’t buy buttermilk! How would you ever use it all up? You can make your own by adding one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to a cup of whole milk. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so and you have a terrific substitute for buttermilk.

Trick Five: Self-rising flour. Season your flour with salt, pepper and whatever spices you like. Beat an egg in a cereal bowl. Dip the chicken fingers in the egg and then coat them liberally with the flour and let them dry out on a wire rack before you fry. Self-rising flour gives the chicken a much crispier crust than regular all-purpose flour.


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