Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Fried Chicken and Waffles

by arnold on May 31, 2009

When the prospect of participating in Foodbuzz’s monthly 24, 24, 24 arose again a couple weeks ago, the first thing that popped into my head was throwing a chicken and waffles party. Fried chicken and waffles is one of my favorite meals in the whole world, and being from Southern California, I was first introduced to this combination at the world-famous Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood. Personally, I think Roscoe’s waffles are much better than their chicken, and the real secret to Roscoe’s greatness is in their amazing syrup.

thigh and waffleRoscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

When I moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area 10 years ago, it was hard to find a decent substitute, and the Roscoe’s that was in Oakland at the time was a substandard knock off of the L.A. original. Over the last few years, chicken and waffle options in the Bay Area have improved, especially when the Home of Chicken and Waffles, which was originally slated to be an official Roscoe’s franchise before the owners decided to do their own thing, opened a few years ago in Oakland’s Jack London Square. It still isn’t Roscoe’s, but it satisfies the craving.

A classic combinationHome of Chicken and Waffles

The most decadent versions of chicken and waffles I’ve had have been at Sunday brunches at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville. Ad Hoc’s fried chicken is so popular that it has developed a cult following and is the featured entree at the restaurant on alternating Mondays. The recipe was first published in Food and Wine magazine a couple years ago and my post about making the fried chicken is one of the most visited pages on this site.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and WafflesAd Hoc Fried Chicken and Waffles

On a recent trip to Williams Sonoma, I stumbled upon a display featuring the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit, a recent expansion of Thomas Keller’s exclusive line of products for the retail chain…

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit

…that also includes the Bouchon Bakery line of products.

Bouchon Waffles

When I saw the Bouchon Bakery Yeasted Waffle mix, I decided that this 24, 24, 24 event was going to turn into a throwdown: the Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Kit v. Ad Hoc fried chicken from scratch and the Bouchon Bakery Yeasted Waffles mix v. the Best (and Easiest) Yeasted Waffle by Sheryl at Crispy Waffle.

I met Sheryl on Twitter after she started following me, and her blog immediately got my attention because I had been looking for a good waffle recipe since inheriting a Krups Belgian Waffle Maker last year from a friend. Her “Easiest, Crispiest, Yeasted Waffle” recipe really lived up to its name and it’s the recipe I always turn to when I get a waffle craving. (See my Crispy Waffle post from March.)

Chicken Showdown
I deviated from both recipes instructions by cooking the chicken sous vide before dredging and frying. I do this because I’m paranoid about undercooking chicken, and cooking it sous vide for an hour at around 140F/60C ensures that the chicken is cooked and helps keep it juicy. This allows me to focus solely on the color of the fried chicken when it’s frying in the oil.

Water bathVacuum sealed chicken taking an hour-long, 141F/61C(ish) “bath”
Post-Sous Vide chickenIt doesn’t look that appetizing fresh out of the water bath, but after dredging and frying, it’s heaven.

On the surface, both batches of fried chicken I made looked identical, but on flavor, the scratch recipe beat the kit by a mile. The main difference between the scratch recipe and the kit is in the brine. The scratch recipe’s brine calls for fresh herbs and spices, honey and lemons, and these flavors really come through in the final product.

Fried ChickenThe “scratch” batch of fried chicken.

The fried chicken kit relies on a brine packet of dried spices and seasonings instead of fresh, but the most glaring omission was the lack of lemons. As a result, everyone who tried the kit’s fried chicken said it had a strong pepper flavor. I wonder if lemon powder could have made a significant difference, but I think the inclusion of fresh lemon zest and juice into the brining liquid would have been a pretty simple step for most home cooks.

Waffle Throwdown
Although we were dealing with two yeasted waffle recipes, there were a couple differences in how they’re put together. Sheryl’s recipe uses dry instant yeast and calls for a refrigerated overnight rise, while the Bouchon mix uses active dry yeast that is proofed for 10 minutes before mixing the batter and has a rising time of 90 minutes. Sheryl also adds a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract to her batter.

The Bouchon Bakery mix produces waffles that are incredibly light and more delicate than Sheryl’s waffle, which can be good or bad depending on your preferences. Personally, I found them to be a little too airy, but I was still astonished at how light and crispy they were.

Bouchon WaffleBouchon Bakery Waffle

That doesn’t mean Sheryl’s waffle was heavy by an means. It was still light and crispy but had just a little more weight and texture (dare I say gravitas?) than the Bouchon Bakery waffle, as well as a creaminess in the middle that every good Belgian waffle should have.

IMG_0677Sheryl’s Crispy Waffle

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Belgian waffles, preferring the thinner traditional waffles like the ones they serve at Roscoe’s. I even picked up a traditional waffle iron to test out some buttermilk and cornmeal waffle recipes to serve along side the yeasted waffles, but I couldn’t find one that I liked enough to feature alongside the fried chicken. Sourdough waffles are generally served at Ad Hoc, but I didn’t have a sourdough starter on hand (or the time to start one), so I tabled that for another time.

If there’s one thing I learned during my research, it’s that I really like Belgian waffles now, especially the yeasted variety, and I am now in the market for a better Belgian waffle iron, preferably one that flips. I think I’ll save the traditional waffle iron for moffles.

Thanks to Foodbuzz for helping to make this event possible. I had a lot of fun researching and cooking one of my favorite meals for my friends. Plus, we generally have a hard time getting this group of friends to come up to Ad Hoc with us, so this was a way that I could bring a small piece of our favorite restaurant home for them to experience. But most of all, I hope it inspires you to seek out fried chicken and waffles wherever you live, or better yet, make it yourself! :)

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

alice May 31, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Looks like you had an awesome time. What is the water tank you washed the chicken in.. is that something you made or is it a piece of equipment intended to wash chicken in?

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Arnold May 31, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Hi Alice,

I wasn’t actually washing the chicken. :) I was cooking it “sous vide” in 140F water. I took the chicken out of the brine and then vacuumed sealed them in plastic bags using our Foodsaver and cooked them in the water for an hour. Since the temperature of the water is constant, the chicken won’t overcook because it will never go above the temperature of the water. 140F is a safe cooking temp. for chicken, but the temperature of the chicken also goes upa little more when its in the oil.

The plastic vessel is a standard hotel pan filled with water. The device with the display on it is an immersion circulator that is used to control the temperature of the water and also circulate it throughout the pan so that the temperature of the water remains constant.

There’s more info on sous vide cooking here: http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html

:)

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bryan May 31, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Can you tell the difference pre-cooking the chicken sous vide versus frying raw? I thought the latter would be moister since pre-cooking means the chicken would overcook as it is “re-fried” so to speak. Just my hypothesis, never tried.

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Arnold May 31, 2009 at 11:22 pm

bryan, it would only matter if you were overcooking the chicken. In this case, the temperature is only 140F, so I’m actually undercooking it slightly and then finishing it in the oil after it’s dredged and fried.

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sheryl June 1, 2009 at 1:11 am

This post is torture! I shouldn’t read it while hungry. Cooking the chicken sous vide is a brilliant idea — especially for dark meat, since that takes such a long time to cook, and normally the breading then turns out too dark.

And to be honest, that Bouchon mix waffle looks amazing – I have to try it now. Makes me want to elbow Thomas Keller in the neck…

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Chaime June 1, 2009 at 9:08 am

Oh my GOODNESS! I agree with Sheryl, this post is torture. I really need to get to Ad Hoc one of these days for brunch…

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MyLastBite June 1, 2009 at 11:17 am

I haven’t been to Roscoe’s in years. You just made me want to go back NOW!!!

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Nate June 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Hello, fellow “24″er!

This is a great post. I haven’t yet had the privilege of eating chicken and waffles together. Thanks for doing this showdown (I am so jealous of your sous vide setup). I want to try those waffle recipes. Do you think there is a way to replicate the Roscoe’s syrup?

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Arnold June 1, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Nate,

Roscoe’s syrup is a big secret actually, and I don’t even think it’s all natural. :) They serve it warm, which is something I need to try with our preference, a good Grade A Maple Syrup. The waffles are also really good with honey.

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Marvin June 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I am in complete awe (and envy) of your immersion circulator. I’m gonna have to think of a good excuse to give my wife to convince her I need one!

I too love roscoe’s, and I can only imagine how good Keller’s fried chicken is, but man, your version looks killer too.

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The Duo Dishes June 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm

As lovers of all things fried and waffle, we do think this is glorious! We’ve been to Roscoes and Gladys Knights, and it’s always a treat. Definitely better to make it at home though.

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Alta June 8, 2009 at 11:51 am

That whole sous vide idea is amazing. I’ve tried frying chicken a few times, always to have it turn out so dark by the time the chicken was cooked through at the bone. Problem solved. Sounds amazing – I love chicken and waffles! Now, to find the equipment to cook sous vide!

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Dave June 8, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Please visit and let us know what you think of Little Skillet and Farmer Brown

http://littleskilletsf.com/

http://www.farmerbrownsf.com/

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JamesD June 11, 2009 at 9:29 am

Thanks for the useful info. It’s so interesting

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Paul June 12, 2009 at 7:29 am

Good God I’m hungry now! I guess that’s what I get for reading this first thing in the morning. Arnie, I still remember you taking me and a few other to Roscoe’s for the first time. I’ve only been back once since but I plan on taking my family one of these days on the way to the SCV.

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Phyllis (meHUNGRY!) June 13, 2009 at 1:02 am

WOW -you own a thermal circulator!!! Always love reading about a food showdown, great 24,24,24 post!

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Melissa July 16, 2009 at 10:18 am

I saw a shoutout to inuyaki.com on a Newsweek article yesterday! The author was doing something similar as you are above, but using a southern mix to compare against the Ad Hoc mix. I’m sure you’ve already read it, but he called this a “surprisingly good food blog.” Yay for you!! :)

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Arnold July 17, 2009 at 3:24 am

Melissa, yeah I did see that…Thanks! I’m contemplating changing my blog’s tag line to “surprisingly good” hahaha!

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Melissa July 22, 2009 at 8:53 pm

I see that you did update your tag line. Love it!! :)

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Arnold July 22, 2009 at 9:01 pm

@Melissa: Yeah, I couldn’t help myself. :)

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Jeff October 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm

What??? When did this happen?

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Suzanne June 2, 2012 at 8:18 am

Great post! I’d like to make an appetizer version of chicken and waffles for a BBQ I’m going to. I was going to try chicken tenders but I know the cooking time will need to be reduced. Do you think the seasoning for the full recipe will work just as well on tenders?
Thanks!

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Wendy September 29, 2012 at 8:29 am

Where is your crispy waffle recipe….I need to make it this weekend…been craving it. Give it to me asap. I like the one u made yrs ago that is light and crispy…it was very airy not dense. Waiting for it…..

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