I always see people turn up their nose in disgust at the idea of chicken & waffles. Mixing breakfast & lunch, sweet & salty, sugary & savory, all in one…can it really be done? Well, yes folks I believe it can! The moment the fried chicken & waffle come together bathed in hot buttery syrup you cannot look away! Unbelievers are transformed with the first bite, with the very first whiff of the plate they fall into the brunch trance. I’ve seen it over & over again. As a matter of fact, I witnessed it a few nights ago with my very own family. I fed them a dinner like no other dinner before- fried chicken & waffles, in no ordinary way. If I was going to do this, I had to do it right. It was my one opportunity, all or nothing I tell you.
Then it hit me. The Ranch. It came back to me like 100 boomerangs. Me & Michael visited this incredible farm to table restaurant in Irving called the Ranch last spring. It was a bit pricey but fairly reasonable. I give it one million stars. Hands down. If you find yourself in the DFW area, go!!! Without a doubt, go! The flavors are so flavorful; it awakened all of my taste buds at once. We ordered 3 appetizers, one of which was fried chicken & waffles. I reviewed them online beforehand & everyone said you certainly could not go wrong with the chicken & waffles. Little did I know, it was not just chicken & waffles like you get at IHOP or Cheddars (nothing against those places, they have a place in my heart too). It was ancho-honey-maple-syrup, mashed sweet potatoes, savory warm waffle, another dollop of mashed sweet potatoes, fried chicken tender, homemade creamy white gravy all over, & a few chives on top. I’ve been dying to recreate it ever since. Luckily, they have this magic machine on their website where you can email the chef requesting your favorite recipes! So that’s exactly what I did. & Guess what? He gave them to me just like that the very next day!
I basically used their exact recipes, cutting them down to size & tweaking them here & there. This meal was not easy to make, I won’t lie. But with some prep & practice, it should be easier. Plus it is so so so worth it in the end. I found myself frustratedly questioning the process after burning my first batch of gravy but was pleasantly rewarded with sweet victory when it was all over & I finally took a bite.
Boy, that was a lot of writing! Now onto to the good stuff.
*I’m going to show you how I made this in the order that I made it all in. If you are only making part of this meal please be aware of that. Carry on!
Before you start cookin’ up a storm, get out a package of defrosted chicken tenders & open it up. Place them in an airtight container with the marinade & place them back in the fridge. I followed this fried chicken recipe all the way through with minor exceptions which I will mention. For the marinade- minus the pickle juice; add a cup of buttermilk & an extra egg. I sure hope that makes sense!
For the Mashed Sweet Potatoes you will need:
3 fairly large sweet potatoes
3 T. butter
1/4 t. rosemary
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 t. parsley
1/4 t. oregano
3/4 T. molasses
1/3 T. kosher salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
*No idea how that baking powder found it’s way into the picture…
For the Ancho-Honey-Maple-Syrup you will need:
1/8 c. yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/2 t. garlic, roughly chopped
3/4 c. orange juice
1/8 c. honey
1 dry ancho chile, stem & seeds removed
1 c. maple syrup
Sautee the onion & garlic with a tiny bit of olive oil in a small pot over medium-low heat till translucent.
Hint: While those are cooking, start the sweet potatoes baking in the microwave (or the oven if you have all the time in the world). Pierce them several times with a fork first. Most microwaves have a special potato cooking sensor in them now, but just keep putting them in till they’re soft like a baked potato should be.
Measure out the honey & oj to go into the syrup. Cut the chile into a couple smaller pieces & remove the yucky stuff.
Pour those 3 ingredients into the pot once the onions/garlic are translucent. Let that cook until thick & sticky, about 20 minutes. Stir often to avoid it all sticking to the bottom of the pan.
While that is cooking on the stove & your sweet potatoes are baking, start on your waffle mix. You will need:
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 c. milk
1/2 c. canola oil
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. parsley
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. thyme
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt. Make sure there are no lumps.
Add everything else- eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, & herbs. Whisk until everything is combined.
When the potatoes are soft & through baking, let them cool.
Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat. Puree the mixture till it’s as smooth as possible. This is really difficult because it’s so sticky just FYI! You may loose a lot of the mixture through the process but that’s alright.
Hint: This is a really good time to plug in the waffle iron & start it heating up.
Put the pureed mixture back into the saucepan & add the syrup. See how mine is in a big clump? It’s okay! Heat over medium heat whisking constantly to break up the clump & combine everything together. It will happen!
Pour syrup mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Microwave right before serving.
Now, start on those waffles! Spray your griddle with some non-stick spray & fill appropriately.
Hint: Turn on your fryer or start heating your oil now for the fried chicken tenders.
Mmmmmm Hot waffles! Place in a warmer or low temperature oven until time to serve.
In between waffle rounds, peel the sweet potatoes.
Dump them all into a mixing bowl & add everything- butter, herbs, molasses, salt, pepper, & cayenne.
Mix on low for 1 minute or until ingredients are incorporated then mix on high for 30 seconds.
Transfer to serving dish & microwave just before serving!
Now you need to bread/fry your chicken tenders & make the gravy. I mentioned above that I used my previous fried chicken recipe for these chicken tenders. So you’ll need to go there to get the ingredients & instructions (Follow this link). I do recommend a double dunk & breading since these are larger pieces of chicken & you want a very crispy coating. Make sure you cook them all the way through. Your oil should be at 350 degrees & your chicken will be done cooking when it reaches 170 degrees. I put 3 pieces of chicken in at a time in a mini fryer & it took about 7-9 minutes each time.
While your chicken is frying, make a quick white gravy. I used a super secret gravy recipe that Michael says I’m not allowed to share! So feel free to use an easy mix, you deserve it after all the hard cooking that just happened. Or make your own homemade gravy. There are plenty of gravy recipes on Pinterest too.
Now that everything is ready & warm, it’s time to plate it! This is pretty much how they did it at the Ranch, but you can do it however you feel led.
Step 1- Drizzle plate with ancho-honey-maple-syrup.
Step 2- Place a spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes on plate.
Step 3- Place a waffle on top of the potatoes.
Step 4- Put a tiny dollop of sweet potatoes on top of the waffle.
Step 5- Lay 1 chicken strip on top of the dollop.
Step 6- Pour gravy over the entire thing.
Now dig in!!!!!!
If you want to make this easier, I’d suggest using plain old syrup. This syrup mixture is delicious but picky eaters/kids might not appreciate it as much. Or you could use a packaged waffle mix & simply add the herbs to it. You can use fresh herbs instead of dried as well.
If you have any questions, please ask! I know that was a lot to take in & I might not have explained it very well.
PS- I promise I’m going to come up with some downloadable/printable recipe cards very soon. So check back if this is too messy for you to follow. Thanks for your understanding!