Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mama Ozzy's Chicken 'n' Waffles with Jalapeno Cranberry Schmear

Earlier this week, my daughter Emma sent me a text message at 11:00pm that read: I am craving chicken and waffles.  I had to laugh.  Since Emma lives in southern Virginia and is a two hour drive away, there's not much I could do to remedy her craving, but I completely understood it.  Chicken and Waffles is very crave-able, and even though it is a Southern tradition, it is still a little difficult to find restaurants who serve it.

I am not sure where the tradition began, some say in Georgia, others credit late night diners in Harlem.  I do know this, while it may sound strange at first, the combination of fried chicken and waffles with syrup makes for some top drawer comfort food.

We are lucky here in Durham, NC because we have a restaurant dedicated to this comfort food, Dames Chicken and Waffles.  There is almost always a line at Dames and for good reason.  At Dames they serve something called a schmear with their waffles.  A schmear is basically a compound butter flavored with jam or pralines.  While it may sound fancy, it is incredibly easy to prepare.  As the compound butter melts on your hot waffle it bathes everything with its flavor.  YUM.

So anyway, since Emma is in town for a long weekend, I decided to whip up a batch of Chicken and Waffles complete with a homemade schmear.  I like to serve the dish with some hot sauce on the side.  The spicy acidity of the hot sauce is the perfect counter to the rich buttery sweet waffles.

Mama Ozzy's Chicken 'n' Waffles with Jalapeno Cranberry Schmear
serves 6-8

Spread a hot waffle with a generous amount of the schmear, top with maple syrup and a piece of chicken.  Serve with your favorite hot sauce.

For the Chicken:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 quarts water
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp dried Thyme
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika

Peanut oil for frying

In a large plastic container, combine the water, salt and molasses and stir until dissolved.  Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to overnight.

Preheat deep fryer to 375 F.

In a large bowl combine the remaining  dry ingredients and whisk to combine.  remove chicken from the brine and place directly in the seasoned flour, one piece at a time, turning to completely coat.  Allow dredged chicken pieces to rest on wax paper for 15 minutes before frying (this helps form the coating).

Deep fry the chicken 3 pieces at a time until crisp and golden brown (about 5 minutes).  Place on a paper towel-lined tray and keep warm in a 200F oven while you make the waffles.

2 cups self rising flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
6 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine self rising flour and sugar.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they are just forming peaks, but still liquid.

In a third bowl combine egg yolks, milk, butter and vanilla and whisk to combine.  Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.  Gently fold egg whites into batter.

Cook on a lightly greased waffle iron.

Jalapeno Cranberry Schmear
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup Jalapeno Cranberry Jelly

Combine everything in a food processor and process until smooth.
A schmear can be made with any kind of jam you prefer.  I happened to have Mama Ozzy's Jalapeno Cranberry Jelly on hand so I used that, but peach preserves, or strawberry jam would be equally delicious.  Get creative!

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