RECIPE | buttermilk fried chicken & kamut-cornmeal waffles for a super bowl sunday brunch

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles
Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffles
Chicken & Waffles with Spiced Maple Syrup
Despite being born on Super Bowl Sunday, the event has never held any interest for me. I barely know who the halftime performers are, let alone the teams involved. However, it does provide a wonderful excuse to fill up on American food and drink beer with friends and family.

While Londoners have an unabated love for American food in the form of burgers, pancakes, and pulled pork (seemingly regardless of how well-made the dish actually is), the uniquely American dish of chicken & waffles has not crossed the Atlantic yet, despite the ubiquity of fried chicken shops. My first taste of chicken & waffles was at SoMa-darling Little Skillet in San Francisco, on the first day of my first job out of university. Since then, I have become hooked on the odd pairing of sweet maple syrup and crispy spiced chicken skin, as long as it is properly executed. However, I waited until I moved to London until I first attempted to make my own fried chicken, likely because I did not need to augment the steady supply I consumed from Little Skillet. The Breaking Bad finale last year provided the perfect excuse to bring a taste of Los Pollos Hermanos to London, and since then I have been tinkering with the recipe to perfect it. Using lemon, fresh herbs, smoked paprika, and buttermilk creates a flavourful and juicy bird, but the real improvement since the first batch has been to finish cooking the chicken in the oven rather than in the fryer. This saves a lot of time when cooking large quantities of chicken, and results in a less greasy bird with equally crisp skin when cooked on a rack. Finishing the chicken in the oven also allows you to divert your attention elsewhere while the chicken bakes, such as on making kamut-cornmeal waffles and a spiced maple syrup to round off this Super Bowl Sunday brunch of champions. Even if you have no interest in the game itself, this meal will give you something to cheer about come February 2nd.

Address Book:
Little Skillet | 360 Ritch Street | San Francisco 94107

Adapted from a recipe by Spit & Roast

Finishing the chicken in the oven on a rack results in less greasy chicken (since it spends less time in the fryer and some oil drips out while on the rack) with crisp skin on all sides /// This is also a fantastic way to make fried chicken when feeding a crowd, because the chicken can be fried in batches in advance, and then finished all together in the oven. (The first time I made this recipe I quadrupled it and fried it all the way through, which took nearly an hour of cooking time and left me with a hangry crowd to deal with) /// Cooked chicken can be reheated on a rack at 185ºC (365ºF) for 10-15 minutes, until warmed through, with little loss of juiciness /// The waffles are also wonderful topped with a fried egg and hot sauce.

4 chicken legs with skin and bone, separated into drumsticks and thighs (alternatively use 8 thighs or 8 drumsticks)
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
400ml (1 2/3 cup) buttermilk
200 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour
100 grams (3/4 cup) cornflour (a.k.a. cornstarch)
1 lemon, sliced
8-10 fresh thyme or tarragon sprigs
3 bay leaves
1/2 to 3/4 liter vegetable oil
parsley or green onions, to garnish

Season the chicken on all sides with 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper, and 2 teaspoons smoked paprika. Arrange in a baking dish with the bay leaves, sliced lemon, and thyme or tarragon, and cover with buttermilk. Massage the chicken lightly to permeate with the seasoning, then cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 205ºC (400ºF) when you are ready to make the chicken. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and assemble your batter ingredients. (Now would also be a good time to take out the waffle ingredients and preheat the waffle iron if you are making waffles.) Mix together all of the flour and cornflour, and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a large shallow bowl or in a baking dish. Dip the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, turning to coat completely and gently pressing the flour onto the chicken. Shake off the excess flour over the bowl.

Fill a deep wide pan with 2.5cm (1 inch) of oil (about 1/2 to 3/4 of a liter, depending on the width of the pan) and turn the stove onto medium high heat. Heat the oil until a small piece of bread sizzles and browns upon contact but the oil is not smoking (you want the oil hot enough to brown the chicken quickly). Fry 3 or 4 pieces of chicken at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan so the oil does not cool down too much, for 2-3 minutes per side, until the outside is nicely browned. Transfer browned chicken pieces to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat the process with the remaining chicken pieces. Place the chicken on a rack over a foil-lined baking tray, then bake for 18-20 minutes until cooked through. (Make the waffles and spiced maple syrup while the chicken is in the oven, if serving.)

Serve one waffle on each plate, top with a thigh and a drumstick, drizzle with spiced maple syrup and/or hot sauce, and garnish with additional chopped green onion. (Alternatively, serve the fried chicken with blue cheese dip and hot sauce, new potato salad with mustard and scallions, and a brussels sprouts slaw.)

Serves: 4
Time to table: 50 minutes + overnight marinade
Equipment: large baking dish, deep wide pan, kitchen tongs, wire rack, baking tray


1 1/3 cups kamut flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sliced green onions

Preheat a waffle iron. Mix dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, butter, and egg yolks together, then gently stir into the flour mixture. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate bowl, then fold into the batter together with the green onions. Cook in the waffle iron until crispy and cooked through.

Serves: 4-6 (depending on size of waffle-maker)
Time to table: 30 minutes
Equipment: large mixing bowl, medium mixing bowl, wooden spoon or rubber spatula, electric beater or stand mixer, waffle iron


8 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients until no clumps remain, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves: 4-6

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