Waffles Keep Winning
A new day dawns for chicken and waffles.
East coast. West coast. Or is it the south? The origin story of chicken and waffles is long and winding with as many crossroads as the surface of a waffle itself. But here’s what everyone who’s ever tried chicken and waffles knows. First, the combination is delicious. Second, it’s impossible to eat chicken and waffles without a smile on your face. They’re that good, and a new remake gives you even more reasons to enjoy this sweet and savory combo.
Food historians trace the popularity of chicken and waffles to one restaurant in a particular era. It was New York City in the 1930s, and Harlem was world famous for music and the arts. Nightclubs such as the Apollo, Harlem Club and Savoy featured the best musicians of the era, and the bands often played well into the night. So late, in fact, that when they finished daybreak often wasn’t that far away.
The dilemma for hungry musicians and club goers in the late night hours was food. Were they ordering dinner? Or breakfast? Well’s Restaurant had the answer — fried chicken and waffles, pairing chicken from the dinner menu and waffles from breakfast. From 1938 until it closed in 1982, Well’s served countless thousands of devoted fans this signature dish, and from Harlem the concept spread, notably to Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles in Los Angeles.
In the spirit of jazz improvisation, why not keep the creativity going? Hash browns are another breakfast favorite. What if the waffles are made from potatoes?
This recipe for Chicken-Fried Chicken over Potato Waffles calls for shredded russet potatoes and Just BARE® Boneless Skinless Hand-Trimmed Breasts. An ordinary electric waffle iron is all you’ll need to make the waffles. To prepare the chicken, you’ll slice each breast horizontally to make cutlets (sometimes called paillards; see this four-step sequence to learn the technique). The advantage of making cutlets is they’re evenly proportioned, and over medium-high heat they’ll sauté in as little as six minutes.
One note about making waffles from potato shreds. Potatoes are about 80 percent water, and the longer the shreds sit in the mixing bowl, the more water you’ll notice. For crispy hash brown potatoes, simply squeeze some of the moisture from the potatoes with two slotted spoons or use a colander to let the hash brown mixture drain. Once the waffle iron is warmed up and ready, it takes about 5-7 minutes for your waffles to emerge deliciously crunchy and ready to serve.
The New York Times reported the kitchen at Well’s Restaurant was often busiest at 2:00 a.m., but at your house Chicken-Fried Chicken over Potato Waffles is the go-to choice anytime you’re hungry for a change of pace and a fun, delicious meal. Another variation is Gold Chicken & Cornmeal Waffles. Top with honey, maple syrup or bacon crumbles. You’ll win over a legion of your own fans in no time.
For a short video history of chicken and waffles, watch this video documentary of Harlem’s food renaissance. The story of Well’s Restaurant begins at about the four minute mark.