I have never had chicken and waffles before. At least, that is what I would have said before last Friday. Being as how I am a writer, a therapist, an college instructor, and a human, I love it when my interests come together.
There is such a deep tradition in many of the African-American dishes from the Southern US. I want to tell some of those stories at some point, because to me it is such a testament to the enduring nature of the human spirit. Here a race of people were cruelly treated, separated from their lands of origin, and enslaved. This had a tremendous impact on African-American cuisine. They were separated from the lands, and the plants and other ingredients that were familiar. In addition, they were given scraps and bad cuts of meat to work with. Then from this came a cuisine that not only made use of these poor ingredients, but was old traditions adapted toward their new forced home, and somehow managed to actually be delicious as well! Wow, that is quite the story.
Plus it also means I get to eat, which is something I favor highly, as you may already know.
In poking around on the Internet, I was able to find some information out about Chicken and Waffles. Thomas Jefferson brought the waffle iron back from France, and Americans really took to waffles afterwards. There is a long tradition of slapping some meat on some bread and calling it breakfast. Much meat was prepared fresh from the pasture, so a chicken makes sense as an easy breakfast meat, especially once the slaves were freed and made their way North to have farms of their own. There are some debates about where exactly the Chicken and Waffles came from, and who was the first to sell them at a restaurant. But we do not really need all the exact details to enjoy the rich flavor, steeped in a rich tradition.
So, last Friday I took the plunge. I used Costco frozen panko breaded chicken strip tenders, because it was Friday and I did not want to work all night. I made the waffles with Bisquick mix, and I added marjoram and a touch extra salt to their recipe for more savory waffles. I left the waffles in extra time, to make sure they were nice and crispy. I topped the waffles with chicken strips, and drizzled gravy on top. It was very good, I must say. Not good for for a diet, but it was a fun treat.
I also tried the waffles and chicken with maple syrup on top. It was good, but I think I prefer the gravy. With the gravy, my wife said they were like eating a chicken on biscuits, with gravy, which I think was a perfect description.