This Chicken & Waffles version features Buttermilk fried chicken with Peanut sauce and Ube waffles. Care to try?
Chicken and waffles, but make it more epic
Chicken & Waffles do not count as typical mealtime fare in a rice-eating continent such as Asia. And while we love our rice, I feel it’s nice to break out of the mold every once in a while. So when I decided I was going to do Chicken & Waffles for lunch, I really wanted to go all out because I had no idea when I would be making this again.
First, I picked out a Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe that I feel would produce the best results. I’ve seen lots of good feedback on the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, so I decided to go with that one. I’ve been wanting to make buttermilk friend chicken for a while now but buttermilk is not an ingredient that’s conveniently accessible where I live. I can’t just head to my nearest supermarket and grab a bottle of the stuff, so the moment I got my hands on some I promised myself Chicken & Waffles would be the first thing I made. I needed only 1 cup of buttermilk for 1.5 kilograms of chicken so I had plenty left over from the liter I bought. Naturally, I went ahead and looked for a waffle recipe that used buttermilk as well.
Picking Ube Waffles to pair with my chicken was a no-brainer for me. I love ube but also wanted a pop of color to my Chicken & Waffles. I didn’t even think about whether or not ube would go well with chicken because honestly, when people eat chicken and waffles with butter and honey/maple syrup isn’t the concept pretty much the same? Chicken & Waffles is a savory and sweet partnership after all. I ended up going with The Unlikely Baker‘s recipe for this.
So now I have my recipe choices for the chicken and the waffles, I thought I’d go for a different dipping sauce for the chicken. The classic spicy maple syrup would’ve worked really well here, but I wanted to add a “twist”, if you will. We had a lot of peanut butter at the time I made this so I thought… Peanut butter sauce, why not? As I put these elements together in my head, my mouth was already watering lol. All that was left was to actually go into the kitchen and make these.
Minor “hiccups” and major payoffs
All the recipes I chose to make, when made individually, are rather easy. Making them together for a single meal does require some hustle, but in hindsight, once I found my groove I did not find it difficult at all. I had the goal of being able to serve both chicken and waffles to my family hot and freshly cooked for lunch, so I felt a bit pressured to make sure I could cook everything on time, at the same time. But as always, planning eliminates a lot of the anxiety for me, so I made sure to do all my prep work beforehand so I could focus on cooking when the time came.
Here’s how my “cooking roadmap” for this kitchen session went:
- Wake up early. Brine the chicken for at least 3 hours.
- Make the Peanut Sauce and set aside to give flavors time to mature.
- 2.5 hours before lunch, prepare Ube Waffles batter. Prepare waffle station.
- Heat up oil for frying. Prepare flour and dredge chicken.
- Heat up the waffle maker.
- Once oil comes up to 350°F, fry chicken 2 to 3 pieces at a time. Each side will be fried 8 to 10 minutes, until golden.
- Meanwhile, cook waffles until golden and crisp on the outside. Don’t forget to squeeze extra ube halaya in the middle!
- Flip chicken or remove to paper towel if already cooked through and golden on all sides. Remove waffles if done as well.
- Immediately serve cooked Chicken & Waffles while preparing the rest of the batches. OR place cooked chicken and waffles in a warm oven if planning to serve all at the same time. (In the end, I didn’t want to open the oven so I immediately served the Chicken & Waffles to whoever sat down at the dining table first lol.)
The original instructions by Cook’s Illustrated actually has you baking the chicken after frying them briefly, but as I mentioned, I really did not want to open my oven on this day. I stuck with frying my chicken all the way through and unsurprisingly, they came out really great! The chicken was juicy and tender inside, and crispy on the outside with some of the spices coming through. They remained tender after being reheated but did not retain the crisp exterior, which was fine.
The Ube Waffles were a bit of a letdown for me. The batter has ube jam and ube extract so I was expecting it to be really good, but to be honest it lacked in flavor for me. It needed a touch more sugar and a bit more ube jam, and even when I squeezed extra jam in the middle of the waffles, I needed to schmear more jam on the waffles themselves before I was satisfied with the flavor. At least they were super soft and fluffy thanks to the buttermilk!
Despite my complaints about the waffles, this was a pretty dang good meal! I could liberally use my peanut sauce on both chicken and waffles without worrying about flavors clashing. Everyone was very positive about this lunchtime switch up here at home and that made me really happy!
My notes on this recipe
- Make sure to brine/marinate chicken in the buttermilk mixture for at least 1 hour. I reckon the flavors would’ve been more prominent and the texture of the chicken better had I gone for overnight marination. I’m still happy with how the fried chicken turned out even with very brief brining though.
- Make the Peanut Sauce ahead of time as well. Homemade dipping sauces taste best when given time to sit and meld together. The flavors mature nicely this way.
- When frying the chicken, make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry chicken 2 to 3 pieces at a time to avoid major temperature changes in your cooking oil. Frying too many pieces at once will cause the temperature to drop. Try to maintain the 350°F (180°C) to 395°F (190°C) temp range while cooking. I needed around 8 to 10 minutes on each side to fully cook my chicken. (After flipping my chicken, I was able to cook waffles!) Depending on the size of your chicken, the cooking time may vary.
- Do not overfill your waffle maker. I have a tendency of doing this so the batter sometimes spills down the sides. Filling the waffle maker bout 3/4 full should be fine, but if adding halaya in the center like I did, maybe do a scant 3/4 full first. And then you can pipe the ube jam at the center (using a piping bag is the easiest way here), then scoop just enough extra batter on top to cover the jam.
- Cook waffles until dark golden outside and crispy. This Ube Waffles recipe makes some very nice and tender, almost fluffy, waffles. Even when it becomes toasted outside, the waffles stay fluffy inside.
- You may want to serve waffles with more ube jam. They are not super ube in flavor on their own, but when eaten with the chicken, I suppose that’s a good thing.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Ube Waffles
For the Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- 1¼ cups buttermilk, divided
- 4 teaspoons salt, divided
- Dash of hot sauce
- 3 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika, divided
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
- 1.5 kilograms bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1¾ cups vegetable oil
For the Peanut Dipping Sauce
- ½ cup chunky peanut butter
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons sambal oelek, or more to taste
- ¼ cup finely sliced scallions or leeks
- 1 Tablespoon lime or lemon juice
- ½ Tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup warm water
For the Ube Waffles
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal, or just use more flour
- 2 Tablespoons sugar or other sweetener, optional
- ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoons salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 115 grams ube jam, plus 70 grams (1/4 cup) or more for filling and serving, as desired
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons ube extract
Prep the chicken
- In a measuring glass, mix together 1 cup buttermilk, 3 teaspoons salt, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- You can either place the chicken in a large ziplock bag or in a tray, then pour in the buttermilk mixture. Turn the chicken pieces to properly coat every single piece. Place in fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
Make the dipping sauce
- Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Set aside in an airtight container at room temperature, or in the fridge if you prepped it really early.
When ready to cook, make the waffle batter
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt, until well combined.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, 115 grams of the ube jam, eggs, oil, and ube extract, until completely smooth and combined.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry, then stir gently until combined. Place about ¼ cup of ube jam into a small piping bag or ziplock bag. Snip off the corner. Line all these up in your "waffle station".
Cook the chicken and the waffles
- Heat up the oil in a large pan over medium heat until it reaches 375ºF (190ºC). Heat up the waffle maker at the same time.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 3/4 teaspoon paprika, and remaining cayenne pepper. Add the last 1/4 cup of buttermilk into the dry mixture and mix with your fingers or a fork until clumpy.
- Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture. Press the flour coating onto any bald spots on the chicken. Place chicken on a plate by the frying pan. Prepare a clean plate with paper towels as well.
- Once the oil is hot enough, add chicken into the oil 2 to 3 pieces at a time, being careful to maintain the oil temperature. Adjust the heat to keep it around the 350ºF (180ºC) to 375ºF (190ºC). Cook the first side for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden. Flip and cook the other side about the same time. Remove cooked chicken onto paper towels to drain excess oil.
- While waiting for the chicken to cook, add waffle batter onto the hot waffle maker until about 3/4 full. Squeeze out about a tablespoon worth of ube jam all over before topping off with more batter. Make sure not to overfill the waffle maker. Cover and cook waffles until toasted, golden, and crisp on the outside.
- Continue cooking the chicken and waffles in batches. Once you get the hang of the back and forth, you will realize you have enough time to cook them at the same time. Ideally, you want to serve both hot for best possible eating experience.
- Don’t forget to serve with the peanut sauce for the chicken and some extra ube jam for the waffles. Enjoy this wonderful combo!
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