THROW LIKE A GIRL: Southern Food of the North

NO, NOT LIKE THIS

NO, NOT LIKE THIS

by Deborah

I wasted the first 30 or so years of my life thinking that it made no sense to combine the chicken with the waffle. After all, these very two discreet items sit uncomfortably next to each other on the plate, with no seeming desire to mingle, right? Why put something with a bone on top of something that usually serves as the core of a breakfast dessert, right? Wrong.

 

My eyes were opened by Marvin, a restaurant kind of in the south, but appealing to the northern gentrifiers of northwest DC. Much like the chicken and waffles dish itself, this restaurant combines two seemingly unrelated things (Belgian and Southern food) into something that seems to work (as another girl, aka “bitch” can attest). I could go on about Marvin Gaye as the namesake of the restaurant, the neighborhood, and all the symbolism surrounding the restaurant as connected to today’s key dish, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. I’ll focus on just one thing: both of these things are Northern perceptions of the South. On a recent trip to rural Kentucky, the locals emphatically denounced any regional connection to the dish, even while claiming a much grosser sounding food made out of squirrels and with the unfortunate name of Burgoo. Turns out, there’s not really any part of the south that lays claim to chicken and waffles. NPR, a great resource for all things south, confirmed this for me. And, in Boston, the upscale southern places are multiplying that love to serve this dish and its cousins to all the Yankees (see exhibit A, my first northern-southern experience).

But, back to me. I have learned this: Maple syrup can work magic. It ties everything together. Chicken and waffles, with your own added syrup, is divine.

This knowledge came in handy when esteemed Footballz co-host TD Sidell graced me and EPK (for those of you not in the know, think FOOTBALLZ) with an all-day sports watching binge (let’s just say that sport was football). Despite his seeming intelligence and grace  on his weekly broadcasts, the version of TD heading to our house wanted to bring over Banquet chicken. What, what? And, despite the fact that frozen, boxed, fried chicken is obviously only stocked for last-minute moments of desperation and sadness, TD actually told us this in advance. Days in advance. Which gave me plenty of time to spring into action and maintain our home’s culinary standards. Which leads us to…

Making the food of the week — There are three basic components of making delicious chicken and waffles. 1) Chicken; 2) Waffles; 3) Maple Syrup (this part is pronounced silently). Got it?

1) Fried Chicken. This is one of those places that Epicurious is not the answer. It has a snobby appeal that I usually appreciate, but that’s no good for simple, greasy, comfort food. So AllRecipes it is. I don’t know enough to adjust the recipe, so I’ll just give a few tips based on my one success and one failure in making fried chicken:

  • Soak the chicken in the buttermilk mix for a long time. Overnight. This is nice for the juiciness.
  • Don’t try to deep fry chunks of meat in a dorm room on a cheap hot plate. It just might end up luke warm and soggy. Not the goal here.
  • Dark meat. Please. No problem that there is a bone here, I trust your eating skills. You might think that light meat is better, but that just makes you a stupid American. Drumsticks and thighs are always the best, but this is especially true paired with the waffle.
  • Be ready to eat it as soon as it’s done, because old fried food is yuck.

2) Waffles. Don’t be stupid, only use the waffle part of this recipe. Although, in other circumstances the rest of the recipe is super tasty too, but more for a girl’s brunch than a manly, smelly sport-watching day. The key to the waffle is that it be hefty enough to support a sizable portion of chicken. That’s why I go belgian. It also continues the Marvin inspiration. And now, thoughts on waffles:

  • Follow this recipe straight up – no need to adjust. Easy.
  • Much like frying chicken needs a stove that actually gets hot, waffles require their own special equipment.  I have recently learned that the waffle iron doesn’t need to have a handle. In a pinch, oven mitts or burnt finger tips will do.
  • I haven’t tried adding chicken to the best waffles in the world, but if you want chicken and waffles while you’re in Seattle (shout out TD! Please don’t use Banquet here!), try topping them off with BringYourOwnChicken.

3) Maple syrup. This isn’t hard. Just use a lot, all over. Until your plate, fingers, mouth, and chin are all sticky. Then add a bit more.

I think that’s enough. There’s your latest football food. With West Coast, 10am, games in mind. But good anytime.

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