I love chicken and waffles since I was nine. My folks moved our family to the Los Angeles area when I was in the fifth grade. My recollection of the first time I poured syrup onto my plate of chicken and waffles was at Roscoe’s in Long Beach, California.
Since then, I have had many versions of chicken and waffles (fried chicken to pulled chicken). And, now we serve our family this delectable meal at least once a month. More often than not, we buy the fried chicken and make the waffles ourselves with interesting selections of syrups and great sides.
Who came up with chicken and waffles?
When I was nine, my Dad told me that Chicken and Waffles comes from soul food, and I believe he is correct. Here’s what I know through the years:
- Waffles were invented back in the middle ages.
- Belgium waffles became popular after its introduction at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
- The well-known pairing of fried chicken and waffle with butter and syrup comes from American soul food.
- The pairing of pulled chicken and waffle with gravy is well-known as Pennsylvania Dutch chicken and waffle. This version is popular in the northeastern part of the country.
I don’t know exactly who came up with chicken and waffles. I do believe that the combination of Chicken and Waffles is a true American original.
Do you put syrup on chicken and waffles?
Let’s first address the question we get the most, “do you put syrup on chicken and waffles?” The answer to this question depends on which version of Chicken and Waffles you are having. And, the creativity of using the popular sauce in your part of the world. Our answer is always “Yes” to syrup on chicken and waffles. What other tasty sauces you can put on your chicken and waffles, you ask? Here you go:
Six flavorful toppings we put on our chicken and waffles:
- Syrup: we always put maple syrup on our waffles. Maple syrup has a unique smooth taste and it carries the sweet scent of maple woods (or saps). Do you know that maple syrup contains antioxidants and Canada produce 85% of maple syrup in the world?
- Honey: some of my family members prefer honey on their chicken and waffles. Honey has a unique sweet fragrance and taste that marry well with waffles and fried chicken.
- Gravy: when we are having the Pennsylvania Dutch version of chicken and waffles, the waffle is plain and the chicken is pulled stewed chicken. We put gravy on top of the pulled chicken – which is on top of the waffle. We have had both cream gravy and brown gravy – both are tasty. If you like Béchamel sauce with chicken drippings, cream gravy is for you. If you like the toasty color and texture of your Thanksgiving gravy, then the brown gravy is for you. Homemade chicken gravy is made of love – especially when you have good chicken broth and you whisk the seasoned flour constantly to incorporate into it. Yum.
- Salsa: we have had a version of waffle with jalapeno cooked into the batter. We put salsa verde on top of our fried chicken in this version.
- Sweet chili sauce: we have had a version of fried chicken seasoned with ginger and lemon grass. The waffle has cilantro baked into the batter. We were served with sweet chili sauce with this version – which balance well with the exotic spices used in the chicken.
- Curry: we have had a version of stewed chicken seasoned with cumin and curry spice. The waffle was plain. We put curry (gravy texture) on top of the pulled chicken, and the waffle was underneath the curry chicken. It was delicious.
I suppose there are endless of possibilities of what you can put on your version of Chicken and Waffles. It is really about what taste good to your palate, and what sauce goes with the seasoning of your chicken and your waffles (plain or spiced up).
What else goes with chicken and waffles, as sides? There are many flavorful sides to pair with chicken and waffles. Here are the delicious sides we love in our household.
Six tasty sides to go with chicken and waffles
- Grits: Grits can take on whatever flavoring you put into it – you can make cheese grits, bacon grits, any kind of savory grits pairs well with fried chicken.
- Rice: There are a variety of rice such as the Arborio rice, Spanish rice, Jasmin rice, Basmati rice, etc. Rice too can take on other flavors when make it with other ingredients or flavors. Depending on your preference of short grain or long grain rice, both will work. We have had fried rice, coconut rice, and dirty rice – all pair well with our fried chicken. You want to make sure the seasoning of your chicken goes with the flavoring of your rice.
- Mac n cheese: our kids love mac n cheese with their fried chicken. The creaminess of the cheese pairs well with the crispy chicken. If you are using a strong cheese to make an adult version of mac n cheese, make sure the cheese does not over-power the spice in the fried chicken.
- Corn on the Cob: I visited my grandmother in the Heartland every summer when I was a kid. She always served us corn on the cob with fried chicken. The natural sweetness of corn pairs well with spices used in the fried chicken. Either corn on the cob or cream of corn goes well with fried chicken and waffles.
- Greens: Southern-style collard greens with crispy bacon is our favorite. Other options: sautéed spinach with bacon, or cream of spinach tastes good too.
- Chutney: We have had mango chutney as a side, and as an ingredient in a Tikka Masala sauce on top of our fried chicken, both applications of chutney are divine. Either fried chicken or oven-baked chicken will pair well with chutney. Warm fruit compote is another tasty side.
Fun Note: According to our family friend, Supreetha in London, there are at least 50 versions of chicken Tikka Masala. Our version contains the chutney to add a hint of sweetness to balance the spices.
It’s always fun at our chicken and waffle table – is it the fried chicken or the waffles or the maple syrup? Or, we can use our fingers as utensils to enjoy our fried chicken? Or, the many tasty choices of sides? For me, it is simply a wonderful meal that reminds me of my childhood with my folks, and now creates new memories with my wife and kids.