Brunch – known as the occasion between breakfast and lunch – is a popular mealtime where ordering food without much of an eye to the clock becomes more socially acceptable. Whether it’s pancakes and eggs or perhaps a salad and sandwich, diners have the option of leaning one way or the other when it comes to ordering their preferred meal. Now an interesting phenomenon has taken brunch (and many other meals) by storm: the classic Chicken and Waffles.
Traditionally, this dish is categorized as soul food and often found in southern cuisine, but now chicken and waffle restaurants are popping up all over the map. The perfectly seasoned, crunchy skin of the chicken paired with the fluffy sweetness of a waffle loaded with syrup make for the perfect sweet and savory combination that many crave.
So this week, my cooking partner at church suggested recreating this iconic dish as our meal for the month. Normally I would be up for such a challenge, but I was a little hesitant this time. First off, we typically make food for about 40-50 people. Can you say cooking in bulk? Second, our church doesn’t have a kitchen, so any food we make has to be cooked at home beforehand and brought in warm that morning. Needless to say, these two obstacles were problematic enough that I would need to get creative if I wanted to do a good job pulling off this dish.
To start things off, I wanted the food to be hot and fresh when served, so my best bet was to forgo frying the chicken and stick with regular old skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Now the tricky part was to get them all cooked in a timely manner and keep them warm afterward as well. Only one thing came to mind: Crock pot.
This invention has changed my life so much and has been a tremendous help when cooking on limited time! Nothing was easier than throwing the chicken thighs with a marinade in the crockpot and cooking them on low overnight. In the morning, all I had to do was finish off the seasoning, cut the meat up, and put it back in to stay warm. Easy peasy! Below is the recipe I used for the marinade on the chicken:
Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs
1 bottle Dijon mustard
8 tablespoons maple syrup
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 pounds frozen boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
1) Mix all ingredients besides chicken together in a bowl.
2) Place chicken thighs in crockpot. Drizzle marinade over the chicken.
3) Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is tender and cooked through.
Overall, I really liked this recipe and the flavor of the chicken. Yet there were a few aspects of the finished product that I would change to better fit the “chicken and waffles” experience. First, I wanted the chicken thighs to stay whole so that each person could have one big piece of chicken. Unfortunately, the chicken shredded after it cooked. There wasn’t a difference in taste, but in general I think a whole piece would have better presentation. Second, I didn’t fry the chicken, but I think the crunchiness of the skin would have been a great touch. Finally, I would recommend using boneless chicken with the skin, searing the meat in a buttered cast iron skillet, then adding the mustard marinade and finishing it off in the oven. This would add a nice texture to the chicken while still leaving the inside moist and delicious.
In the end, the recipe still turned out great, and the people we served ate it all up! If you have yet to partake in this delicious phenomenon, chicken and waffles are a fun and tasty option for your next brunch. Enjoy!