If you're anything like me, the term "chicken and waffles" calls to mind a classic of the soul food tradition: crispy, fried bone-in chicken atop a tender-on-the-inside, crisp-on-the-outside waffle, all doused in sickly sweet maple syrup. To be frank, I never understood the concoction. I've eaten it in my pre-veg*n life. In fact, I ate it at Sylvia's in Harlem, home to some of the most famously delicious soul food in the country. And it just didn't do it for me.
Now, my mom sometimes made "breakfast for dinner" for my sister and me when we were little, particularly when my dad was away on business trips. (He hated "brinner." It was okay; more for us.) It was a rare treat, and it the young Gothic Homemaker palpitate with great joy. And, if I'm being truthful, the sight of a preheating waffle iron still incites in me lovely pangs of nostalgic bliss. But the random mash-up of chicken (savory dinner fare) and waffles (sweet breakfast fare) never quite gelled for my palate, personally.
So, imagine this Jersey girl's surprise to find that there is ANOTHER KIND OF CHICKEN AND WAFFLES. As I am wont to do, I was futzing around on the Interwebs one evening – and on this particular evening, the cupboard was pretty bare – when I hit upon this Wikipedia article on chicken and waffles. (Don't ask how. My cyber wanderings are vast and mysterious.) Pennsylvania Dutch chicken and waffles? I think you'd have to be from Pennsylvania Dutch country to have ever heard of such a thing, but please tell me if I'm wrong. I'd never heard of such a thing. Even Wikipedia deemed it worthy of only a one-sentence mention. This kind of thing is so up my alley. I have a fascination with learning about (and veganizing) dishing from all around the globe. You can imagine how I get when I learn that there are regional foods from my own native country which are foreign to me. I love it! It's like pondering the far reaches of deep space, then realizing there is a wealth of uncharted territory in the depths of the ocean on your own little planet. So, long story short, I decided I was going to go make vegan Pennsylvania Dutch chicken and waffles.
Most recipes I Googled (and my "most" I mean the two I found) were pretty straight forward: stew a chicken, make a roux, then use the stock to make gravy and serve over a waffle. I obviously bypassed the issue of making a stock from scratch, so it all came together in 20 minutes (not including the six millennia it takes for my waffle iron to preheat, or the time it takes to present it with pagan offerings to urge the "ready" light to come back on between waffles). It was pretty scrummy. Even W, who was more than dubious at first, thought it was pretty awesome. The best thing to which I could potentially compare it might be chicken pot pie, only much less fussy to make. And so, dear reader, I have learned that breakfast and dinner foods can coexist peacefully, and it was a valuable lesson to be had.
Pennsylvania Dutch Style "Chicken" and Waffles
For the “chicken”:
2 vegan chicken-style cutlets (I used Gardein)
2 T. vegan margarine
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 dried bay leaf
2 T. unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ c. no-chicken bouillon (I used 1 Edward & Sons cube)
¼ c. plain, unsweetened almond milk
½ c. baby carrots, sliced (not traditional, but I like carrots)
1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce (optional)
2 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes
¼ tsp. poultry seasoning
¼ tsp. white pepper, or to taste (black pepper is okay, too)
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
Salt, to taste
For the waffles:
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ T. sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. Ener-G powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. soymilk
2 T. canola oil
1 T. water
¼ tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
Whisk together the dry ingredients for the waffles in a small bowl (flour through salt) and the wet ingredients (soymilk through vanilla) in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk to combine. Set aside to allow the batter to rest while you prepare the sauce. If your waffle iron is like mine and take a century-and-a-half to heat up to readiness, go ahead and get that sucker going.
Spray a non-stick skillet with oil/cooking spray to coat, then heat over medium-high. Season the “chicken” cutlets all over with salt and pepper, then on both sides until lightly browned; remove to a plate to cool. Add the margarine to the skillet and heat until melted and starting to sizzle. Add the onion and bay leaf, and sauté until the onion softens. Stir in the flour, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the bouillon and almond milk. Add the carrots, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, poultry seasoning and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the carrots are tender. Meanwhile, shred the cooled “chicken” into long strips, then stir them into the thickened sauce.
Re-stir the rested waffle batter briefly and use it to make two waffles. (If your batter has gotten too thick, add a splash of very hot tap water.) Spoon the “chicken” and sauce over the waffles and serve immediately to avoid your waffles getting all gross and soggy.
She ain't much to look at, but dang she was delicious.