By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
I woke up this morning pondering a dream that I had. There was a waffle iron, chicken and waffles, my old boat stowed in the garage, a chicken coop and the first car that I ever bought.
I’m sure someone out there knows what this means. If you do, give me a jingle, Doc.
I know what happened to the boat and the car, but for the life of me I can not remember what happened to the waffle iron.
We used to love making waffles from scratch. Whether it was from a mix or composed piece-by-piece from the pantry, it didn’t matter. We simply enjoyed making waffles.
In the days of yore, travel was a big part of our family. This dreaded pandemic changed things for everyone, but even before that, my ill-fated decision to start opening restaurants definitely put a damper on family trips.
That is now easing up and we will have some new adventures in the future. But for now, I guess I’ll have strange dreams of kitchen appliances and nautical vessels acting as my outlet.
On these trips, and we took quite a few, there were often waffle irons in the hotel lobby when continental breakfast was an offered amenity. And they were always a mess.
The good folks of this fine land of ours often lacked the skillset of adding just the right amount of batter, spinning the iron quickly enough to prevent spillage and waiting the appropriate time before opening the iron. Nay, they were messy.
I would often find myself cleaning up the iron a bit before making a masterpiece waffle, amazing the guests around me as the haunting and compelling opening of Beethoven’s 5th would blare over the hotel’s sound system.
OK, maybe none of that is true. My fellow guests did not care, it was more likely a ditty by Justin Bieber or Demi Lovato, and my kids in their younger years were there, tugging at my sweatshirt whining and complaining that it was taking too long.
Perhaps my reminiscence of the former scenario is easier for me to enjoy than the latter. Who knows?
On one particular trip to Williamsburg – a weekend full of Great Wolf Lodge, Busch Gardens and of course Colonial reenactments – there was no breakfast in the hotel.
As such, we went to the recommended local diner and had a fabulous repast to start the day. Nourishing ourselves for what would prove to be a monumental day of walking, swimming, sliding and roller coasters, there was plenty of coffee and good food to be had.
Since we were far enough south, they had country ham on the menu. I ordered my obligatory Chicken & Waffles and a double order of country ham.
Recognizing our Yankee accents (it still amazes me how a three-hour drive can make us stick out as northerners), the server, an older woman who we learned had worked there for decades, patted me on the shoulder and said “Honey, I think you’d like the regular ham.”
I asked her if the country ham was salty as hell and stinky, and she laughed and said “of course, honey.”
“Then, I’ll take a double order please,” I mused with a smile.
She obliged and it was perfect. She was mightily impressed that a northerner would find such pleasure in this southern delicacy.
Finished breakfast, we piled into our two cars, and started pulling out when my wife loudly exclaimed, “Where’s Ethan?”
We looked around for our 5-year-old, and his seat was empty. We peered toward the restaurant and there he was, his deadpan face plastered against the window of the front door of the restaurant. We were the very last table of the day, and he was locked in.
He had asked to go to the restroom alone, as he was a ‘big boy’, and we forgot the kid. The employees didn’t realize until we were out of the building. I guess you have to do that once to get it out of your system.
And that is what I think about every time I eat Chicken & Waffles.
Chicken & Waffles
4 ea. large fresh waffles
8 fried chicken tenderloins (recipe follows)
2 c. pure maple syrup
3 tbsp. Hank’s Hot Sauce
2 tbsp. red chili flakes
This is going to be the easiest one yet. Simply place the fried chicken tenderloins atop the waffles
1. Mix the last three ingredients together and slather your glorious dish with that warm, drippy sauce
Fried Chicken Tenderloins
8 ea. chicken tenderloins
2 c. AP flour
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. granulated garlic
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. blackening spice
1 c. milk
1. Trim the tendon off of each tenderloin and discard
2. Preheat a fryer to 350F
3. In one bowl, add the flour, salt and all of the spices
4. In another bowl, combine the eggs and milk
5. To bread the tenderloins, dredge (lightly coat) in the seasoned flour
6. Proceed to the next bowl and coat with the egg wash
7. Return to the seasoned flour and coat evenly
8. When all of the tenderloins are coated, fry them until golden brown and the internal temperature is 165F
9. Keep warm until ready to serve, but cook these as close to service as possible
—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College
and owner of boxcar40.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com.