Betsy and I love hosting fun brunch parties (excuse to day drink) but we’ve really only hosted one or two since moving to Colorado.
Over the months though we’ve met a lot of fun people here in town and there seemed to be one thing that they all had in common: None of them had ever had chicken and waffles.
This was unbelievable to me and Betsy. She’s from Nashville where chicken and waffles is king and I worked in a Southern restaurant for years where chicken and waffles was the most popular dish on the menu by far.
So we decided to remedy the situation by having a dozen or so friends over and making a whole bunch of fried chicken and waffles.
It was an astounding success if I do say so myself and I even got a few “best fried chicken ever” comments which always makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
So here are the recipes I used and also a few tips if you want to host a similar shindig.
1) For brine, mix spices, salt, and sugar with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, kill the heat and let cool to room temperature.
2) Cut up chicken and pour cooled brine over chicken. Cover and chill overnight.
3) When you're ready to fry the chicken, pour out the brine and rinse off the chicken with cold water. Be sure to get off all the spices.
4) Combine buttermilk with a pinch of salt and combine flour with spices.
5) Dry chicken with a paper towel. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, then dip in buttermilk, then back to flour. Dry - Wet - Dry.
6) Let chicken sit for 10 minutes.
7) Fry chicken at 350 degrees until golden brown and cooked through. Dark pieces will probably need 16-18 minutes. Breasts 12-14 minutes and wings 8 minutes.
8) Let drain for a minute or two before serving.
9) Serve with waffles, maple syrup, and powdered sugar.
I’ll be honest. I think the chicken is more important to this recipe than the waffle. You could use an Eggo waffle as long as your fried chicken is really good. It’s kind of just an excuse to pour syrup over everything.
The crispy, salty chicken though… that’s where the magic happens.
As it turns out, I’m pretty snooty about my fried chicken. It’s a process, but if you follow it, you’ll have some really good chicken on your hands. So just trust me on this one.
The key to getting really juicy and delicious fried chicken is to brine it.
A brine is just a sugar/salt solution that you let the chicken sit in overnight. The salt will slowly breakdown some of the proteins in the chicken and allow it to absorb more moisture. The result is an incredibly juicy chicken.
To make the brine, just combine all the ingredients with four cups of water in a pot. Bring it to a simmer and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Then kill the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. If you’re in a hurry, you can mix the spices/sugar/salt with 2 cups of water and then add 3 cups of ice to it to cool it down faster.
For the chicken, while not completely required, I recommend cutting up your own chickens. The reasons for this are A) it’ll give you a good mix of white and dark meats B) it’s cheaper than buying chicken pieces and C) you can keep on all the skin which is the best part of fried chicken in my opinion!
I’m not going to show you how to cut up a chicken here because it’s really better via video. This video, by Ian Knauer of Gourmet, does a perfect job of showing you the tricks. I cut mine up exactly like he does. You should be able to tackle a chicken after watching this video.
I cut up three chickens for our party which was the perfect amount. Once you have all your chicken cut up, just add it to a large bowl with your brine. Cover this and let it sit overnight in the fridge.
Part of a successful chicken and waffles party is planning. The setup of your frying station and waffles section is very important.
Here’s the run down:
For starters, mix up everything you can before people get there. Stuff like the flour and buttermilk for the chicken can be mixed up a few hours ahead without a problem.
When you’re making the flour mixture, you might think it looks like a lot of spices, but it’ll be just the right amount. Don’t worry. Remember that most of the spices won’t stick to the chicken.
I set up my buttermilk and flour for the chicken on one side and my dry and wet ingredients for my waffles on the second side. Obviously, eventually I mixed the waffle mix together but I didn’t do that until I was ready to make the waffles.
As far as the frying station for the chicken goes, this is my standard setup for when I need to fry a lot things. It works great for fried chicken.
So, on the left, is a resting place for the chicken before it goes in the fryer. You want to let the chicken sit for about 10 minutes after it gets buttermilked and floured. This will give a chance for the crust to really dry on the chicken.
Then you fry it at 350 degrees. Use a deep fry thermometer to make sure your temperature is right. Use the biggest heaviest pot you have to preserve as much heat as possible in the pot. Dark meat (thighs and legs) will probably need 16-18 minutes to finish. Breasts will need 12-14 minutes and wings will be done in about 8 minutes. This is all a rough estimate. It’s always a good idea to test the first few pieces to make sure your timing is good.
When you’re ready to fry, pour out all the brine and rinse off your chicken with cold water. Make sure to rinse off all the whole spices. Then dry off a few pieces with a paper towel, dip them in the the flour mixture, then the buttermilk mixture, then back in the flour mixture. Dry – Wet – Dry.
Then let it sit for 10 minutes as I said, then fry it up!
When it comes out of the fryer, let it rest for a few minutes on a station to the right of the fryer.
This setup lets you have a little assembly line of fried chicken which is awesome.
When frying, remember to not fry more than a few pieces at a time. In my 6 quart dutch oven, I only fry 4 pieces at a time. You want to make sure that your temperature stays nice and hot.
Then serve up the chicken with a warm waffle, lots of syrup, and a good sprinkle of powdered sugar!
Then watch people get messy!
This post is getting long so I’m not going to lay out the waffle situation. It’s pretty straightforward. I used the recipe from this banana walnut waffles post without the add-ins. The post shows the process I used.
Here a few tips if you plan on hosting a chicken and waffles party (which I highly recommend):
- Don’t rush. This should be a casual brunch. Make sure you have plenty of time to cook everything correctly.
- Tell people the schedule. Get people prepared that not everyone will be eating at once. It’s really impossible to prepare more than a few plates at a time because both fried chicken and waffles are best when they are right out of the waffle iron and fryer. I don’t recommend trying to prep them ahead of time and keeping them warm.
- Have plenty to drink. Have people bring champagne and beer and stuff. As long as the drinks are flowing people won’t mind waiting a few minutes for the best brunch of their lives.
- Use real maple syrup. It’s a game changer.
- Have a light dish. Buy a watermelon. Cut up some fruit. Provide something that’s on the lighter side.
- Fire extinguisher. Get one. Hopefully you won’t need it.
- Don’t stress. You’re cooking a cool dish. People will be impressed. Have a drink and don’t stress about it.
See. Look at me! Totally not stressed at all.
Seriously though it was a great brunch and really fun to see people get completely messy eating a tasty meal.
If you’re feeling ambitious, this is an awesome brunch party to host!