When Chef Ed Lee waxes poetic about fried chicken, he can go from chicken spas to his wedding proposal without skipping a beat. And that makes perfect sense because fried chicken can be an all-consuming, life-long pursuit for someone like Ed Lee. In his take on this Southern soul food classic, chicken and waffles recipe, the chicken is pre-cooked in a poaching liquid then fried—much to the chagrin of some fried chicken worshippers. But Ed’s always been a rule-breaker and we sure are happy that he is.

RECIPE FOR ADOBO-FRIED CHICKEN AND WAFFLES

Feeds 6

INGREDIENTS

WAFFLES
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

DIPPING SAUCE
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 fresh Thai bird or habanero peppers, thinly sliced

ADOBO BROTH
2½ cups distilled white vinegar
1½ cups water
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 bay leaves
1½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt

FRIED CHICKEN
2 pounds chicken, thighs and/or drumsticks, plus wings if desired (do not use breasts)
salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
about 8 cups peanut oil for deep-frying

 

DIRECTIONS

To make the waffles: Preheat your waffle maker and lightly oil it. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, paprika, and black pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients at little at a time, whisking constantly.

Cook the waffles according to your waffle maker’s instructions. Cut the waffles into 2-inch-wide wedges and reserve on a plate at room temperature or keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.

To make the dipping sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the adobo broth: In a large pot, combine all the ingredients, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down as low as it will go.

Arrange the chicken pieces on a work surface and season them with salt. Add the chicken pieces to the gently simmering broth, cover, and poach for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. You want the chicken to poach gently and stay moist while picking up the flavor of the broth, so make sure the liquid does not get hotter than a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the liquid, covered, about 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces from the adobo broth (discard the broth) and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Pat dry.

To fry the chicken: Pour the buttermilk into a large shallow bowl. In another bowl, combine the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, the paprika and the pepper. Dip each chicken piece in the buttermilk, shake off any excess liquid, dredge in the flour mixture, turning to coat and transfer to a large plate. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. The flour coating will turn a little soft – that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, fill a large, deep cast-iron skillet about half-full with peanut oil. Heat the oil to 365˚F. Cook the chicken pieces 2 or 3 at a time for 8 to 10 minutes, turning every minute or so, depending on how thick the pieces of chicken are; wings will cook faster and drumsticks will take the longest. Be sure to keep the oil temperature at around 350˚F to 365˚F. The chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches at least 165˚F. Using tongs, lift the chicken out of the oil and drain on paper towels. Season again with a little salt, and transfer to a platter.

Serve the fried chicken with the waffle pieces and the dipping sauce. Eat it hot!