Friday, May 27, 2011

Paleo Chicken and Waffles

Straight out of Harlem.
For some reason, people think chicken and waffles is a southern thing. Being from the south, I thought maybe I just wasn't paying attention when I was a kid, because I had never once seen anyone eat chicken and waffles together. In fact, I don't think I'd even heard of the idea until I moved north from South Carolina to Virginia. It turns out that my powers of perception weren't completely turned off in this case. The idea of combining fried chicken and waffles actually comes from Harlem, and originated during the Jazz Age at a restaurant called Wells'. The confusion about it being southern food is understandable, given the metric tonnage of fried chicken that I've eaten in my lifetime, just never with waffles.

Paleo fried chicken isn't really that hard to figure out. You just replace the thick, grain-based breading with a very light dredging of arrowroot powder and fry the chicken in a decent kind of oil. I don't personally have any lard (yet), but if you have some, this is a good time to get it out. You can also use coconut oil or any other neutral oil. Just don't fry with something that's loaded with trans fats, and everything will be OK. (Protip: the secret word signalling trans fats is "hydrogenated." Look on the nutrition label.)

Waffles are a trickier proposition. They're a bread product, so you're going to have to get out some serious paleo substitution voodoo to make them happen without grains. Thankfully, the Internet knows everything, so I was able to find a good paleo waffle recipe at a site called My Primal Kitchen. They're primal over there, not paleo, but there's a lot of overlap. This recipe is both. Also, I used their ingredient list, but changed up the technique, because the original steps require you to dirty more bowls than strictly necessary, and I like to avoid that.

I start to worry that a recipe is over-complicated if the ingredients don't fit on my cutting board.
I guess this one just made it.


For the waffles
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
large pinch of cinnamon
6 eggs
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp coconut oil (plus a little for the waffle iron)
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the chicken
4 chicken breasts
arrowroot powder (enough to lightly coat the chicken. 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
smoked paprika (optional)
oil for frying


Large Bowl
Waffle Iron
Draining Rig

Start with the waffles. In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, almond meal, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk them together to combine the ingredients, and try to whisk out as many clumps as you can.

My coconut flour always has little clumps in it. You can see some of them in the picture.
Try to get most of those out, but you'll probably have a few small ones no matter what.
They'll get taken care of when you add the wet ingredients.

Add the eggs to the bowl and mix them into the dry ingredients.

Stupid broken yolk, ruining my picture...
Put the coconut oil and honey into a microwave safe dish and heat them for about 30 seconds, until the coconut oil is liquid.

This stuff mixes in much easier when it's liquid.

Add the coconut oil, honey, and vanilla extract to the bowl and mix everything well. Let the batter sit for a few minutes while you turn on your waffle iron and let it get hot. When the waffle iron is ready (mine has a little light that comes on) pour about about half of the batter (about 1 cup) onto the center of the waffle iron and close the lid.

The batter won't go all the way to the edges. That's good, because the lid squishes everything outward when you close it. If you load up the iron completely, you're probably just going to throw away your waffle iron and buy a new one rather than clean up the disgusting mess that results.

Cook the waffles until the waffle iron indicates that they're done (mine uses the little light). Remove the waffles from the iron and set them aside. Cook the second half of the batter just like the first.

The chicken only has a few steps. First, season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. If you've got it, also shake on some smoked paprika. You don't have to use the paprika, but it's really good.

I forgot to take a picture of the seasoned chicken until it was about to be breaded.
I think you still get the point.

Put your arrowroot powder on a plate. Put the chicken on top of the arrowroot powder, and turn it over to cover both sides of the meat. Shake off any excess, so that you have a very light coating. Do this for all of the chicken breasts.

You only want a light dusting to stick to the chicken. Otherwise the breading will mix with the oil and make disgusting oil-and-arrowroot dumplings all over your chicken.

Add enough oil to a pan to come about halfway up the side of a chicken breast. Heat your oil up over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the oil and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Then, flip the chicken over and let it cook for another 3 minutes on the second side.

That's the color you want to see.

Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on your draining rig.

Paper towels also work.

Plate each piece of chicken with two of the waffles.

Feel free to serve this with the side item of your choice, but it was a hearty meal all by itself.

  • My waffle iron makes four normal waffles at a time. If you've got a waffle iron that makes huge Belgian waffles, you're going to have to adjust how much batter you put into it, and you're going to get a different number of waffles. I trust you to remain calm and make the necessary adjustments.
  • Depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to cook more than one chicken breast at a time. Just make sure that they aren't touching each other in the pan, or the crust won't form correctly. The pan I used can only handle one at a time.
  • If your pieces of chicken are very large or very thick, they may take longer to cook. Each of mine were about 8oz, and 3 minutes per side was just right.
  • Nutritionally, this dish is high protein and medium fat. The carbs per serving are negligible - maybe 5g for each serving.
  • Traditionally, you'd put maple syrup on the waffles, and a little hot sauce on the chicken. A bunch of maple syrup would defeat the purpose of the dish, but you can make an excellent sauce for this that's only a mild indulgence. For each serving, combine 1 tbsp of hot sauce with 1/2 tsp of honey. Heat them in the microwave for a few seconds to thin-out the honey, and mix them together. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken. You're only adding about 3g of carbs if you do this.
  • In case it's not clear, these are just like normal waffles. You could eat them for breakfast next to some bacon and eggs and they'd be great. Also, since they're so low carb, you can top them with a little fruit without even sending them into indulgence land.

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