Healthy-ish Chicken & Waffles

As a kid, chicken and waffles was one of my favorite meals. It straddled the breakfast-for-dinner line, and nothing is more enchanting to a child than foods eaten at the wrong time. Even without knowing a single thing about food, I knew that these things didn’t necessarily belong together, and that made it feel kind of illicit (as far as illicit goes when you’re 6). We’d toast up some golden Eggo waffles and smother them with chicken breast that was stewed in Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup. Yep. If you’re thinking, “WTF is she even talking about?”, you’re right on track.  I had no idea that this was wrong for decades. My mom grew up in Pennsylvania, and who even knew there was a Pennsylvania Dutch version of chicken and waffles? Or in my case, who even knew there was something else? The first time I saw a crispy piece of fried chicken atop a homemade Belgian waffle, glistening in all its maple syrup glory, I was stunned. Maple syrup? On a savory dish? The world turned inside out. By the time I discovered the version of chicken and waffles that the non-Amish love, I was already deep into gluten intolerance and the real-deal Southern version of this dish was off the table for me. I finally took steps to correct this for myself by making it as my final dish in culinary school. I like to think of it as Kate-style chicken and waffles—there are green things (Cruciferous vitamin wonders!). There’s almond flour (More protein and good fat! Gluten-free!). There’s bone broth (Inflammation-busting collagen!) and even some citrusy marmalade (Jam is my jam!). Like all the chicken and waffles I've eaten in my life, it’s so wrong I can't help but love it.

For the waffles

2 c gluten-free flour blend (make sure it contains xantham gum)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutritional yeast

3 sprigs rosemary leaves, chopped

2 c bone broth

1/2 c coconut oil, melted

2 eggs

1 Tbsp honey


For the chicken

1 ½ c almond flour

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

⅛ tsp cayenne

⅛ tsp clove

1 ½ sprigs rosemary leaves, chopped

1 egg

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 4), trimmed of visible fat

2 c coconut oil or neutral oil like organic sunflower, canola or rice bran

4 Tbsp orange marmalade, warmed until liquid

Kale salad for serving (see note)

Preheat oven to 375°. Preheat waffle maker.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutritional yeast, and rosemary. Use a whisk to make sure ingredients are well-blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add almond milk, coconut oil, egg, and honey. Whisk together until all ingredients are combined. Your batter should be smooth, with no clumps of flour remaining.

Pour batter into waffle maker ⅔-1 c at a time, depending on the size of your appliance. Use a spatula to ensure that the batter spreads out almost to the edges. Cook for 7 minutes, or until the exterior is golden brown and crispy. Set aside cooked waffles on a rack to cool slightly. The batter should yield 4 full-sized Belgian waffles.

In another medium bowl, combine almond flour, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, cayenne, clove, and rosemary. Use a dry whisk to make sure all of the spices and salt are well incorporated. In a smaller bowl or on a plate, beat the egg. Then, working in an assembly line, place each piece of chicken in egg to coat, then in almond meal mixture to coat. Have a sheet pan reserved to place chicken on once breaded.

In a large saute pan, melt 2 cups coconut oil (or other oil) over medium high heat. Wait until the oil shimmers slightly, then test a small piece of breading to see if it’s hot enough. Bubbles should form around it immediately. If that doesn’t happen, pull it back out and wait a bit longer until another test piece fries correctly. If you have a thermometer, 350° is the perfect temperature for frying the chicken. Fry each piece 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Flip and repeat on the other side. Remove pieces from oil and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake 20 minutes in the oven or until chicken is cooked completely through. For the final 5 minutes of bake time, place the waffles in the oven to reheat.

To serve, place a whole waffle on a plate. Serve with a handful of kale salad on top (if using), a piece of fried chicken, a drizzle of orange marmalade, and a sprinkle of nice, flakey sea salt.

Note: I dig kale salad with this. It sounds weird, but the bitter/acid note is a much-needed counterpoint to the rich/sweet recipe. Plus, nutrition, ya know? You can make it however you like, but I typically take a bunch of kale, remove the stems, and chop it into ribbons. I massage it with 2-ish glugs of olive oil, juice from half a lemon and a few pinches of salt. Make it to your own taste.