Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner Goes Epic

Hey there, I'm back again!

I think we all get the urge to make breakfast for dinner once in a while, whether it's a simple plate of bacon and eggs or pancakes or going whole hog for a batch of Eggs Benedict. Well, as I recently posted, I'm a big fan of the latest (to Canada) breakfast classic-in-the-making: Chicken and Waffles!

But, me being me, and Kari being Kari, we weren't going to go the traditional route of fried chicken on a sweet waffle with syrup (and maybe gravy) on top, we were going to try something completely new (maybe).

So for our version of Chicken and Waffles, we used a savoury waffle batter using goat cheese and fresh basil and instead of fried chicken, we kept the Italian influence going with Chicken Parmesan (with Kari's fresh-made tomato sauce, of course!). As a topping, we figured everything can use a touch of bacon-like flavour, but to be thematically consistent, I decided to fry up some Sopressata Salami instead. Also, building on the idea of Garlic Maple Syrup from our last trip to Murray Street, I whipped together a garlic-balsamic-maple sauce. Because HELL YES!

Now, this one is going to take some time, because there was a lot going on with this dish (because it was a rare Saturday off together and we're lunatics).

Here are the four main components of the dish:

Savoury Goat Cheese and Basil Waffles
Chicken Parmesan
Crispy Sopressata Bits
Garlic-Balsamic-Maple Sauce

Kari got the ball rolling by putting together the tomato sauce for the Chicken Parmesan (some day I'll actually reprint the recipe for this):

Meanwhile, I went to the Internet for inspiration, having never made waffle batter before. I pretty much followed the recipe below from Allrecipes.com, while omitting some ingredients, and adding others:

Getting pointers online

So here is the revised recipe:

Savoury Goat and Cheese and Basil Waffle Batter

- Makes 6-8 waffles


- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 3-4 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped or 2 tsp dry basil
- 70 g (half a small package) goat cheese


- Beat the eggs with a fork or hand mixer until fluffy. 
- Mix in flour, milk, oil, baking powder, salt, pepper and basil until batter is smooth. 
- Slowly beat in goat cheese, a few small pieces at a time until well blended into batter. 
- Set batter aside in the fridge while making other components. 

Batter up! 

Next up is the chicken for the Chicken Parmesan. As most of you already know, Chicken Parmesan is basically a breaded and baked breast or cutlet of chicken topped with marinara sauce and melted cheese. Now, I've probably said it before, but I tend to prefer chicken thighs (boneless and skinless) to chicken breast. They have more flavour and are almost always way cheaper. Also in the case of this particular recipe, thigh pieces  were the right size for the proportion of one piece of chicken to one waffle (with two of each per serving).

Chicken Parmesan

- Makes 6 servings


- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pounded flat (directions to come)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup panko
- Tomato sauce (pre-made)
- 6 slices cheese, cut to cover chicken (usually parmesan, but here I used mostly mozzarella and a pinch of parmesan)


Before doing anything, make sure the oven is preheated at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The first step to getting the chicken ready is bashing it into cutlet shape. There are several ways to achieve this, but the best for this recipe was to pound the chicken flat.

This is done by resting a piece of chicken between two sheets of wax paper and pounding it flat using a meat hammer. In our case, since Kari has lots of neato kitchen gadgets, we used this weighted doohickey that looks like some sort of futuristic gavel.

Below is the "before and after" of that process:

Chicken - pre-pounded

Chicken - post-pounded

So, once that's taken care of five more times (or however many piece of chicken you have), it's time to bread those suckers!

You'll need a container with flour, another with milk and another with whatever you're coating the chicken with. In this case, I recommend panko breadcrumbs, mixed with a pinch each of salt, pepper and oregano. If you're lucky enough to have a home breading station, as my gadget-addicted girlfriend does, well your set up is easy! If not, simply fill three bowls with each component.

The dredging station

The process for breading your chicken is fairly simple: coat with flour, then milk, then breading. Boom, done. Try to have only one hand handle the meat since this can be a a rather messy process and better to only have one hand covered in shmutz than both.

So follow along with my how-to in pictures!

Step 1 - dredge in flour

Step 2 - soak in milk

Step 3 - coat with breadcrumb mixture

Ready for the oven!

Once breaded, set a wire rack over a foil-lined cookie sheet and place chicken on the rack. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crunchy.

Next, turn the oven to broil. Without removing the chicken from the rack, top each piece with a dollop of tomato sauce and a slice of cheese. Broil in the oven until cheese turns golden brown and bubbly.

Chicken is baked, now to broil the cheese

Turn off oven and keep chicken warm in the oven.

Crispy Sopressata Bits

Next up is the Crispy Sopressata Bits. This part's pretty darn simple. Fry Sopressata in a hot cast iron pan (with just a bit of bacon fat) until it's crispy. Set out on paper towel to absorb grease. Break up pieces of meat with fingers or knife and set aside.

Crispy fried Sopressata... 

...becomes a substitute for bacon bits!

And now we get to the Garlic-Balsamic-Maple Sauce, which is really just those three ingredients mixed together and reduced.

A cross-cultural culinary love affair in the making

Garlic-Balsamic-Maple Sauce


- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped or minced
- 3-4 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
- salt and pepper to taste


- Bring maple syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. 
- Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and reduce for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in balsamic and reduce for another 10 minutes until syrupy. 
- Season with salt and pepper before serving. 

Halfway through cooking the sauce, preheat the waffle iron.

Preparing the Garlic-Balsamic-Maple Sauce 

Next up, we cook the waffles. Essentially just pour a half-cup of batter per waffle onto the pre-heated iron and cook until crispy and golden (about 10 minutes). 

Waffley goodness!

Finally, it's time to put it all together. There are two ways to plate this one. 

The first is to put the waffles and chicken side by side, which is the more traditional presentation. Top the waffles with the sauce and sopressata bits, as shown below:

Let's eat!

The second way is to put the chicken on top of the waffles and pouring the sopressata bits and sauce all over the whole thing, which is how Mill Street does it

Let's also eat!

So, the verdict on this over-the-top experiment in tasty decadence? It was really, really freakin' good! The Waffles were rich and flavourful without being too much so. I wasn't sure if the goat cheese would work, but it totally did! The Chicken Parmesan was, well, Chicken Parmesan, which is pretty fail-proof as a flavour profile. The Garlic-Maple-Balsamic Sauce was a great mix of sweet and tangy that offset the richness of the waffles and chicken and the Crispy Sopressata Bits added a salty component that tied the whole thing together beautifully, and the whole affair was a nod to Italian cuisine, although I doubt any chef in Italy has tried this before!

All in all, this was a fantastic epicurean endeavour that I would totally make again, time permitting. This was quite a time-consuming effort, but nothing was terribly difficult to put together and the flavour was unique and delicious and totally worth it. 

If you give it a shot, tell me how it went! I'd love to hear if I'm the only one crazy enough to try this out!

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