Fried Chicken to me is one of those fundamentally American foods. So much so that apparently I feel the need to capitalize it, like some kind of weirdo. It is as fundamental, perhaps, as barbecue — and yes, I know that neither this nor barbecue originate in these here YOO-NIGHTED STATES, but they feel keenly ours, as if they’re lodged deep in the aorta of the diseased American heart!
And now that I’ve gotten you hungry by talking about diseased hearts and clogged aortas…
I love fried chicken, but I tend not to deep fry things here at the house. Mostly because it’s a lot of mess and wasted oil and I’m vaguely paranoid about setting the house on fire, so instead I tend to pan-fry things. And one of the things I pan-fry is chicken.
*plays sex jazz*
Listen, real-talk: chicken breast has its time and its place and that time is never and that place is thrown out into the woods for the Possum King. I mean, the breast from a good, free-range, local chicken can be amazing, but otherwise, white-ass chicken breast is the Justin Bieber of meatstuff. It’s carnivore tofu, taking on the flavor of whatever sauce or soup you stick with it. But the thighs: yeah. Good, dark meat, some fat for flavor.
A few weeks ago, I went to one of our LOCAL EATING ESTABLISHMENTS and saw they had changed their menu, having added chicken and waffles. And I ordered it, because I’ve been going to this high school for seven-and-a-half years, I’m no dummy.
And what I got was a travesty.
A plate of culinary fuckery.
A verifiable restaurateur war crime.
The waffle was limp and flavorless, like an old floppy clown shoe. The chicken — the chicken! — was a fried fucking piece of chicken fucking breast, dry as a roof shingle and half as palatable. And all of it was coated in not-real maple syrup, but rather, the high-fructose corn kind.
It was dinner sadness. It was shameful vittles.
(“Shameful Vittles: For The Cat That Deserves Scorn.”)
And I decided that one day I would rectify this.
AND THAT DAY IS TODAY.
AND THAT DAY WAS YESTERDAY.
Here’s what I did, and here’s what you can do.
First, make waffle batter.
My go-to waffle recipe for breakfasts is this.
But for this I wanted a simpler, and just slightly more savory recipe.
So I went with this.
Mix the batter, let it sit.
Now, you need chicken thighs.
*plays sex jazz again*
I went with eight boneless chicken thighs — bone-in is good (“bone-in” ha ha ha more sex jazz, garçon!), but for some reason, none of our grocery stores ever seem to want to carry them. Boneless works great, and arguably better here because you don’t have to fiddle with the bone (“fiddle with the bone” my my my, keep the sex jazz a-comin, plate captain) when you’re cutting through the chicken and the waffle together. And of course it’s chicken and chicken is basically a wad of salmonella, so you want to make sure to handle the chicken while wearing a hazmat suit. Just don’t wash it because washing chicken is legit how you spread the salmonella.
In a shallow, chicken-dippable bowl: mix one egg and a half-cup of milk.
In a bag, mix up:
A cup of Panko breadcrumbs, a 1/2 cup of flour, a TBSP of cornstarch, a little salt, a little pepper, some garlic powder, some paprika. Just shake it. Shake it like you’re shaking a baby.
My lawyers tell me babies are not for shaking.
Shake it like a — I dunno, what the fuck do you shake? A spraypaint can? A soda before you hand it to a prankable pal? Otters? Do you shake otters? I shake otters. They giggle when you shake them. Like the Pilsbury Dough Boy. It’s amazing. Always shake an otter.
*waits for lawyer note*
*receives no note*
Good. Moving on.
I’ll note here briefly that the Panko crumbs can be replaced with another CRUNCHY BREAD PRODUCT of your choosing — saltines? Great. Ritz crackers? Delicious. Cornflakes? Scrumptastic! Babies? Oh no, you’re not fooling me this time, we don’t eat babies, my lawyer reminds me. And babies aren’t bread products, even though they are often soft and doughy like white bread. Delicious white bread. Delicious baby bread.
*shakes self out of baby-eating reverie*
Anyway. Get you a FRYIN’ PAN, you know, for FRYIN’, and then you wanna fill that sucker up an inch or so with oil. I like peanut oil. High smoke point, like Cheech and Chong. Don’t use olive oil. Definitely don’t use motor oil.
Sidenote: I like cast-iron for this. Because cast-iron is great. I’ve really only come to terms with using cast-iron over the last year or so — before now I was kinda intimidated by its use? “What? I can’t use soap to clean it? What ninja shenanigans are these?” I’d exclaim. But then I got over it and put on my Big Boy Pants and now I’m a cast-iron convert. JOIN MY CHURCH HAVE YOU HEARD THE GOOD WORD.
Put the FRYIN’ PAN on medium heat, bring up to like, 350, adjust temperature so it hangs there. Now it’s time to BATHE THE CHICKEN IN PAIN.
And here you’re like, Chuck don’t be mean to the chicken, and I must say, have you ever met a chicken? Chickens are motherfuckers. They’ll peck a human baby to death. And they’re dumb as paint. Any animal that can be absolved of its own head and still run the fuck around for an hour or two is either a cockroach or a chicken. And both are delicious.
Ha ha what I mean only one of them is delicious.
Are we hungry yet? Good.
Frying the chicken is easy. You dip the chicken in the egg mix. Then you get it in the bag and shake it the fuck around — if you don’t wanna do the bag thing, you can also just mix the breadcrumbs in a second bowl and use that, I don’t care, I won’t judge you. I mean, I’ll judge you, but not for that reason. Then, once dipped twice, it goes into the PAIN JACUZZI. Two or three in the pan depending on how they fit — fry them three minutes on each side or until brown but not burny-brown. Then you’re going to set them aside in a baking dish.
Did I mention the oven needs to be at 350, too?
Get your oven to 350. You should’ve read my mind. You monster.
You’re going to do this again and again, and when you’ve got all your chicken in the dish, you wanna bake it for 20 minutes at 350.
And while it’s baking, you’ve got more work to do.
First, waffles. You know your waffle iron intimately; I do not. Mine takes about two minutes per waffle. Yours may take longer. I have spent long hours seducing my waffle iron to learn its secrets — you, too, must sensually inveigle the iron to discover its ways.
You also want to mix the salt-and-vinegar maple syrup.
And yes, that’s what I said.
Regular maple syrup would of course be fine, but fine is for sandpaper grit and Young Cannibals, not dinner-time deliciousness, and we are aiming for the sublime, goddamnit.
Here is what you do:
Melt 3 TBsp butter in your nuclear radiation cube (aka, “micro-wave”).
Then mix in a half-cup of maple syrup.
Again, the good stuff, like from an actual tree.
Then: a TBsp of soy sauce.
Now, for the vinegar —
I tried it two ways.
First batch, I used salt-and-vinegar powder. It’s this stuff here. It’s great. You can make your own s&v popcorn and it’s also awesome dusted on pork chops. I put in like, I think two teaspoons of the stuff. Mix it good so it doesn’t all glormp at the bottom.
Second batch, I just used sherry vinegar. I like sherry vinegar — it’s dark and mysterious. Very noir. But also a team player. Or something. Shut up.
I don’t know which I liked better? The sherry one is more distinctly vinegary — the powder one has more of that salt-and-vinegar-junk-food vibe.
You do as you like.
I mix that up and then give it another 20-30 seconds in the radiation cube.
Season further to taste.
If you like HOT STUFF, mix in a bit of hot sauce — Frank’s would be nice, or Cholula, or whatever. And also feel free to experiment with vinegars, too. Paul Krueger, penmonkey extraordinaire, suggested apple cider vinegar. I also wonder what it’d be like with a little squeeze of lemon?
Well, I mean, construct your deliciousness.
Then chicken on top.
Then the salt-and-vinegar maple syrup.
That syrup has just the right balance of sweet-to-sour-to-salty. I also popped a couple homemade quick pickles on top because I am just that kind of hipster asshole who thinks pickles should go on 49% of foods.
Whatever. Now shove all of this in the BONE CRUSHER that the FACE GODS gave your HUNGRY FACE and eat, eat, eat.
Also buy my books.