Chicken and waffles

Some time ago, in a discussion of food, a friend remaked to me how much he detested chicken and waffles: chicken with syrup was just wrong wrong wrong. I was baffled by this, because the chicken and waffles I grew up with had no syrup, just bits of stewed chicken in gravy on top of the waffle. Turns out there are two separate traditions here. I grew up with the Pennsylvania Dutch version, but there’s a separate, and much more widespread, soul food version — which does indeed combine chicken (fried chicken) and syrup.

Wikipedia explains it all, very briefly:

Chicken and waffles refers to either of two American dishes that combine chicken with waffles. It is served in certain specialty restaurants in the United States.

Soul food version: The best known chicken and waffle pairing comes from the American soul food tradition and uses fried chicken. The waffle is served much as it would be at breakfast time, with condiments like butter and syrup. This unusual combination of foods is beloved by many people who are influenced by traditions of soul food passed down from past generations of their families. [This version is widely spread wherever there are African-American communities — in the Bay Area, for example.]

Pennsylvania Dutch version: The traditional Pennsylvania Dutch version consists of a plain waffle with pulled, stewed chicken on top, covered in gravy.

The Pennsylvania Dutch version is but one member of a family of savory (rather than sweet) waffle toppings, all with no more than medium-sized bits of protein in a sauce. Turkey substitutes easily for the chicken, and so does ham, and rather more elegantly, veal (in a sauce based on veal or chicken velouté). And quite a few types of seafood. In the waffle adventures reported here, I made both dilled shrimp in cream sauce and some variant of saumon fromage (which is, classically, smoked salmon and fromage frais, though I think I used either cream sauce or crème fraîche). Both yummy. You can imagine other possibilities.



3 Responses to “Chicken and waffles”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Melinda Shore on Facebook, March 6:

    I mostly grew up in Virginia and we ate our fried chicken with honey, waffles or not. Haven’t tried chicken with syrup but it doesn’t sound that much different.

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