Oven-Fried Chicken 'n Jalapeño-Cornbread Waffles

Fried chicken.  On top of waffles.  With real maple syrup.

What a concept!  I never even heard of such a thing until recently.  Can you believe that?  Yeah, I never had chicken on top of an actual waffle before – until a group of friends decided to go get some after a Race for the Cure 5k.  It was like breakfast and dinner had a scandalous affair – and then an illegitimate but beautiful baby – and I was the last to know.

Of course, I realize that this isn't health-food.  Not what you expect to find on a blog with “Fit” in the name.  Soul-food, yes; fit-food, no.  But my, the fried chicken and the waffles, they are tasty!

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 And speaking of tasty things, and thinking about what we like to enjoy with our families on relaxing weekends (or with friends after 5k runs!), I decided that this would be a perfect recipe to healthify – being that we like to stay healthy and we like to keep our families healthy, right?   Besides, most of us could really do with something this over-the-top fun for breakfast… or lunch or dinner!

Oven-Fried Chicken 

  Crispy-crusted on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, these chicken strips didn't leave me wishing for the "real thing"!  They were also super simple to make and left me with time to make the waffles!

1 lb. chicken breast strips

1/3 c. whole wheat flour

1/3 c. cornmeal

1/3 c. bread crumbs

1 tsp. herbed chicken seasonings

½ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. onion powder

¼ + tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

¼ tsp. salt

1 c. buttermilk + 1 T. honey  OR  1 c. milk of choice and 1 T. vinegar, + 1 T. honey  (enough to cover chicken)

Chicken strips, pre-baking

Chicken strips, pre-baking

Place chicken in a glass bowl or casserole dish and cover with buttermilk or milk + vinegar mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. a few minutes before the chicken is ready to come out of the fridge.  Combine flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and seasonings in a medium bowl.

Dredge the buttermilk-soaked chicken in the cornmeal mixture and place on a cooking-spray coated metal pan.  When all the pieces of chicken are done, quickly re-dredge each strip in buttermilk and again in the cornmeal mixture.  Replace each one on the sheet and spray lightly with canola oil before popping in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until each piece has reached 165 degrees in the center or look uniformly cooked throughout when cut open. (No pink or transparency, clear juices.)

Chicken strips, post-baking.  Yeah... still pretty white-crusted.  I used the white variety of ground corn and white whole wheat.. but they didn't brown as much as I would have liked in the oven.  Next time I'd use yellow cornmeal and regular whole wheat.

Chicken strips, post-baking.  Yeah... still pretty white-crusted.  I used the white variety of ground corn and white whole wheat.. but they didn't brown as much as I would have liked in the oven.  Next time I'd use yellow cornmeal and regular whole wheat.

While these are cooking, you will have time to work on the waffles.

Jalapeño-Cornbread Waffles

These waffles are inspired by my love of cornbread and the fact that it goes so well with chicken!  I have had some great cornbread with jalapenos in it before, so why not in the waffles? So glad I did!  The sweetness of the waffle and syrup tempers the spicy and makes it juuust right. 

Adapted from a recipe by Flavor The Moments!  I changed the oil to avocado for less fat (still all good kinds), more nutrients, and a little extra color.  The whole wheat adds flavor and healthy nutrients, while the chicken stock adds just a touch of flavor that marries it perfectly to the oven-fried chicken!

Ingredients:

1 c. cornmeal (160g)

1 c. whole wheat flour - pastry or regular (150g)

4 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 lg. eggs

1 c. low-sodium chicken stock (I actually used a chicken flavored vegetarian one – works either way!)

1 pureed avocado (makes ¼ c.)

¼ c. agave syrup/maple syrup/or honey

2 jalapeños

3 tsp. coconut oil or canola oil cooking spray

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Directions:

Preheat a waffle iron coated in 1 of the 3 tsp. coconut oil or with cooking spray.   Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron pan over medium heat.  When hot, place jalapeños in the pan and roast them for 1-2 minutes until they start to brown or slightly blacken.  Keep turning the jalapeños in this way until they are browned fairly evenly over their entire surface.  When they are done they will be tender and the blackened skin should rub off with a paper towel.

This is the part where I always wear gloves so that my hands don’t burn all day – or I accidentally touch my eyes with a previously jalapeño -ed finger.    Cut off the top of the pepper and then cut it in half, length-wise.  Remove all seeds and white parts from the inside unless you want the waffles to be really spicy.  Mince the peppers as finely as possible and transfer to a large bowl.   

Combine dry ingredients in the same bowl as the peppers.

Combine wet ingredients thoroughly and add to the flour mixture.

I used a large square waffle iron with four sections, and 1/3 of the batter seemed just the right amount for one round.  It didn’t fill the whole iron, though, so you will need more than this for a whole square waffle, or the same amount for a smaller circle iron.

When the iron really starts steaming, that is a good indication that the waffle is done.  It should be browned but still soft when ready.

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When the chicken is done, serve on top of your waffles, and I recommend them served with a bit of real maple syrup. 

Note, though, that maple syrup has 210 calories per ¼ cup.  That can add a whole lot of calories and sugar you won’t even think about later… so go easy!!  I suggest using a teaspoon per waffle.  Actually break out your teaspoon and measure, then use it to drizzle the syrup on to the waffle.  That way, you won’t accidentally pour too fast and you can be sure to get a more even layer of syrup on the waffle!

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