A year ago I put this blog live. I had no idea what I was doing (still barely do) – all I knew was that I had been thinking about a food blog for long enough that I needed to just do it. 2017 threw me for a loop, but luckily this little blog kept me motivated and my mind occupied, making it the most personally gratifying year despite the hardships. I spent almost every weekend dreaming up recipes, testing, and photographing them. I took a photography class and upgraded my camera. Best of all, I ate so much good food with the people closest to me and honestly, that’s really the point of it for me.
The only reason I know how to cook is because my dad cooked a meal from scratch seven days a week. The other day my mom asked my brother and I why we like to cook and the answer was simple. The only time we went to restaurants was when we were travelling, so if I wanted anything different I had to figure out how to make it myself. If I had an idea they would help me find a recipe, shop for the ingredients, and cook it. My mindset was fixed early that good food was easy to make and more gratifying than going out. My brother agreed, cooking is just what we did as a family. It’s fun for us and cooking together has become a treat as we’ve gone off and formed our own styles.
So, with my family life revolving around cooking, it was a no brainer that for my one-year anniversary I wanted to collaborate on a dish with my brother. See, he’s a professional chef and knows everything from soul food to vegan eats. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and telling each other about the new recipes we come up with.
There’s one recipe of his that I am always so happy when he makes and that’s his fried chicken. His recipe is pretty classic – if there’s one dish that doesn’t need to be reinvented it’s fried chicken. He starts with a buttermilk brine for flavor and to tenderize the meat. Then he dredges the chicken in well seasoned flour, making sure to press the meat all around so that the coating is thick and crunchy.
Where we threw our spin on this was in the accompaniments. When I asked my brother to make fried chicken with me he suggested pairing it with savory waffles and a maple creme fraiche. That was all I needed to hear! My only suggestion was that we make the waffles yeasted because I love the depth of flavor and texture you get out of letting the batter rest overnight. With a little bit of cornmeal in the batter, we end up with a waffle that’s crispy on the outside, light and very moist on the inside.
Each component is so complexly flavored that they can stand on their own, but all together the flavor combination is incredible. The chicken is crunchy, salty, juicy, with a touch of spice. The waffles are crisp, yet tender, with a deep flavor from the overnight rest, chives and black pepper. Finally, the maple creme fraiche is sweet and cooling with a slight tang. All together, this is quite a bit of work, but making them with a partner makes easy work. I’m sure even those who don’t like to cook much will be willing to help out if this is their reward.
Here’s to cooking new dishes and eating more good food with those that we love in the new year!
- 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 c. buttermilk
- 1 t. fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 T. Tony Cachere’s original creole seasoning
- 2 T. Crystal hot sauce
- Neutral oil for frying
- 4 c. all-purpose flour
- 4 T. kosher salt
- 2 T. black pepper
- 2 t. cayenne pepper
- 7.5 oz. creme fraiche
- ½ c. maple syrup
- Mix the buttermilk, thyme, creole seasoning, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add chicken, turning to coat and allow to marinate at least 30 minutes, and up to one day. The longer you marinate, the juicier and more tender the chicken will be, but don’t let it go beyond a day or else the texture will start to go downhill.
- Begin heating oil to 375° F in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. The amount of oil will depend on your pot, but you want the oil to come up the sides at least 2”.
- Stir together creme fraiche and maple syrup in a bowl and set aside.
- In another large bowl combine the flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the flour. Don’t worry about letting any excess marinade drip off - we want the extra marinade drips in the flour to help build crunchy pieces. Stir and smoosh the chicken around in the flour to completely coat all the pieces and let sit for about 10 mins to help the flour adhere to the chicken.
- Once oil is at 375° F, drop in 2-3 pieces of chicken. (When you drop in the chicken the oil should cool down to around 350° F.) Fry for about 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Serve with overnight cornmeal and chive waffles, a drizzle of maple creme fraiche, and extra hot sauce if desired.
- 1 ½ t. active dry yeast
- ½ c. warm water
- ½ c. unsalted butter, melted
- 2 c. milk, lukewarm
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- ½ c. cornmeal
- 1 ½ t. granulated sugar
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ t. baking soda
- 4 ½ t. minced chives
- 1 t. freshly cracked black pepper
- Pour warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes, in which time the yeast should begin to foam.
- Add the melted butter, milk, flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt and whisk thoroughly until the batter is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit out at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours. Make sure the bowl is at least double the size of the batter as it will grow quite a bit.
- When you’re ready to make your waffles begin by preheating your waffle iron. The temperature that you preheat it to will depend in your iron, but I set mine to medium-high.
- Add eggs and baking soda to the batter and either whisk well of use an immersion blender to make sure everything is completely smooth and combined. Add chives and pepper and stir with a spoon.
- Cook according to the directions for your waffle maker, or however you normally make waffles. For me, this meant I put my waffle iron on medium high and cooked with a light spray of nonstick spray until the waffles were very well browned, 4-5 mins. This yielded a crispy waffle, so cook for less time if you prefer a softer waffle.
- A tip for the milk - you don’t want it hot, just warm enough that it won’t shock the butter when you mix them together. I did this by microwaving the milk in 30 second intervals until it was slightly warm to the touch.
- Makes 10-12 4”x5” waffle squares in my belgian waffle maker.