I had never heard of such an animal in the culinary world either, until once upon a time in a former life which found me toiling as the Director of International Marketing for a toy company headquartered in Ohio. I would telecommute from my then-home on Long Island, but once every three weeks or so I’d have to spend several days to a week out at the offices with my staff and the Board. The CEO and I would road trip it — two City kids thumbing their noses at everything we passed once we’d crossed the Hudson, and openly declaring Pennsylvania as the “Gateway to Ohio.” In our defense this was spurred by a nasty billboard we had hoped to one night drunkenly deface on the way home — situated right on the PA side of the Delaware Water Gap crossing — proclaiming, “Welcome to Pennsylvania — America Starts Here.”
Like my property taxes were being paid on a chunk of land that was just floating way the fuck off the coast of Mother England, and New Jersey was still awaiting colonization.
But one thing for which we HAD to give Pennsylvania credit was it’s stick-to-your ribs, down-home, Dutch-inspired foodstuffs. It seems in their culinary vernacular, the four basic food groups were meat, vegetables, doughy things, and sauces in such abundance you cannot see the other three food groups beneath.
Fucking love it.
On one trip home, we stopped at a roadside diner which I can from flagging memory promise you boasted colonial wooden furnishings versus vinyl and Formica banquettes, gingham textile appointments rather than paper place mats, uniformed and apron-adorned waitresses who said “yes, sir” and brought requested items promptly, and a business name no doubt thought incredibly clever when devised by the original owner, which through inclusion of the word “Kitchen” was converted to contain “K”-substitutions for its forced-in “C” words — like “Kozy Kountry Kitchen”.
I freakin’ kan’t even.
But I did. I saw — and almost choked on my promptly fetched glass of water — “Chicken and Waffles” on the menu and, inquiring as to what sort of entity I might expect, was told (as the waitress thumbed through her “Pennsylvania English to Evil City Folk” dictionary) that it was rather like a chicken pot pie or a chicken a la king, only with a waffle instead of biscuits or pastry crust.
Lemme at it.
I was delighted and have been making some version of this ever since.
But for this new recipe I wanted to try something different. Instead of making it just like a chicken a la king, or the traditional filling you’d find in a pot pie, I took the vegetables out of the stew part, so what remains is basically just chicken in a cream sauce. But the vegetables are still present, here in what I like to call “Veggie Ice Cream” though there’s no cream and it’s not cold — its just the visual texture of ice cream and I serve it up with the rest of the dish from an ice cream scoop. The vegetable flavor is more savory and intense (I found myself dipping into it way too often as I waited for the rest of the dish to come together) and it just makes it prettier and more interesting.
The waffle itself is pretty basic, though a bit heartier than a regular waffle, with a bit more egg and a bit less liquid.
This, again, was one of those recipes which, once I’d made the whole batch, had to be quickly packed up and frozen, lest I eat the whole load of it and then made you people read a lengthy blog about regret.
I find these best if after cooking the stew you take it off the heat and let it cool; it will thicken a bit. The waffles should be piping hot off the grill, and then they’ll be looking to suck up the liquid, and ugh… now I’m craving one again.
I think they’d look at me askew for this, but ultimately the chef and staff at the Koffee Klatch Kafeteria would approve.
4 Cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 Cup water
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/4 Cup mashed potato flakes (optional)
1 lb. Boneless chicken breast (and/or thigh meat), cubed
2-1/2 Cups water
1/2 Cup chopped onion (or one small onion)
3 Tbsp. powdered chicken or vegetable bouillon
(or 3 packs or cubes, or two large-variety cubes)
1 tsp. Parsley
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
1/8 tsp. Ground black pepper
1/3 Cup flour
1/2 Cup milk
1 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Cups Bisquick
1 Cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
OK, folks… fasten your seat belts…
Waffle Iron Setting/Cook Time: MEDIUM
To make the Veggie “Ice Cream”: Bring frozen vegetables and water to a boil in a saucepan. Stirring occasionally, allow to boil until all the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter, and puree with a hand mixer (or transfer to food processor). Add salt and pepper to taste, and if the mixture is too loose to form a nice, firm “scoop” when spooned out, add up to 1/4 cup of the mashed potato flakes to stiffen it. Hee hee… I said “stiffen”…
Set aside the vegetable mixture, and your disdain for my adolescent non sequiturs.
To make the “Stew”: In a saucepan, bring chicken, water, chopped onion, bouillon, and all the herbs and spices to a boil. Allow to boil, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes.
In a separate cup or small bowl, mix the flour, milk and sugar until smooth, working out any lumps.
Remove the boiled stew from the heat. Add the flour mixture quickly, stirring continuously to incorporate fully. Add the butter, return to heat, and return to a full boil, stirring for one minute once it bubbles. Remove from heat, adjust salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
To make the waffles: I know, right? We totally forgot by this point that this recipe had anything the fuck to do with waffles! Mix the Bisquick, egg and milk, then pour melted butter in and beat slightly.
Putting it together: (Thank you, Mr. Sondheim) Grease the waffle iron with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Spoon waffle batter onto griddle, leaving room for it to spread, and cook until golden brown.
Remove hot waffles to individual serving plates. Top each waffle with a scoop of the veggie ice cream. Portion out the chicken onto each of the waffles, then spoon the remaining creamy sauce over the whole dish. Serve it up, y’all! Them’s is some fine victuals!
What I like to do is take a bit of the veggies on my fork first and then dig into a few pieces of the chicken, and finally fork off a bit of waffle and then wipe the whole mess in the sauce and rush it into my mouth. Or you can smear the veggies over it before eating, which will look so gross to your dinner mates but insures EVD (Even Veggie Distribution).
But come now: I taught you how to make the damned thing. How the frig you choose to eat it, though, I totally leave up to your discretion.