Chicken and waffles has become a trendy dish often featured in trendy restaurants. Supposedly it had its origins in soul food. There are definitely clues that reinforce that attribution: fried chicken and waffles is apparently a stand-by in Baltimore, there is a temple of the dish in South Los Angeles, and at least two places in Harlem have built their reputation on fried chicken and waffles. Honestly, I have never understood the enthusiasm. I love fried chicken as much as the next person, and waffles can be a terrific breakfast or dinner. But crisp fried chicken and sweet-sticky maple syrup together just doesn’t sound like a combination I want to give a try.
Turns out there is another version of chicken and waffles. It traces its origins to the Pennsylvania Dutch area around Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The dish is essentially the filling for chicken pot pie served on top of a waffle. To me, that is an interesting concept, and one that sounds like it might be delicious. My mother’s family traces its origins from Pennsylvania Dutch country through Wisconsin, Iowa, and eventually South Dakota. My wife’s family hails from Wilmington, Delaware, just a short drive to Lancaster. I don’t remember chicken and waffles ever showing up on either family table.
That made me think that maybe a Southwestern version of chicken and waffles incorporating some regional ingredients would make a good alternative to either of the better known traditions. Blue cornmeal waffles seemed like a good starting place. Green chiles and piñon nuts would serve as tasty additions. To brighten up an otherwise monochromatic dish, I topped it all with pico de gallo. For that, you probably have your own recipe. If you don’t, I’ve added one without the kick (There is a serious medical reaction to capsaicin in our household) but you are encouraged to zip it up to your own tastes. So here it is: Santa Fe Style Chicken and Waffles with blue cornmeal waffles and green chile chicken sauce. If you can’t find blue cornmeal at your local store, you can order some from Talon de Gato farms. Otherwise, substituting yellow or white cornmeal is perfectly acceptable.
Blue Cornmeal Waffles with Pine Nuts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup blue cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup pine nuts
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and melted butter. Whisk in the separated egg yolks until completely incorporated
- In a small bowl, beat the separated egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into the batter in thirds.
- Stir in the pine nuts.
- Spoon into a heated waffle iron using slightly more than the amount recommended by the manufacturer. Bake until golden brown. Bake the remaining batter.
Green Chile Chicken Sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (chicken fat if you have it)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 ounces canned chopped green chiles (choose your heat)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock + more as needed
- 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper
- 1 whole chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- In medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, cover and sweat the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so as not to brown.
- When the onions are translucent, stir in the green chiles and cook, uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
- Stir in the flour and cook for 5 additional minutes to remove the raw flavor of the flour. Add the chicken stock, stirring to remove any lumps. The sauce should be about as thick as a medium white sauce.
- Add the oregano by crumbling it between your hands over the pan. Add cumin and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the shredded chicken and simmer for 15 minutes more, or until the mixture is heated through.
Pico de Gallo
- 1 large ripe tomato, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 3 scallions including green tops, chopped
- ½ onion, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped green bell pepper (substitute jalapeño for more heat)
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
- juice of 1 large lime
- salt and pepper
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
- Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve.
Place two waffles on each plate. Top with about 1½ cups of the green chile chicken sauce. Garnish with pico de gallo. Serve immediately with more optional Cholula sauce, if desired.