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Darryl Evans’s Fried Chicken over Cracklin’ Cornmeal Waffles
Darryl Evans’s career took shape in the era when fusion was hot, mixing Southern cooking with global flavors in dishes such as whole, sizzling Asian-style catfish or ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and Georgia caviar. The Columbus native helmed the kitchens of high-profile restaurants like Tom Catherall’s 1990s trendsetter Azalea; Midtown’s Spice; and Anthony’s, in a refurbished antebellum Buckhead mansion.
For this main dish, he draws on the fried chicken he once cooked at Paschal’s, a favorite of civil rights leaders where Martin Luther King Jr. planned the 1963 March on Washington (an outpost of the restaurant still operates in Castleberry Hill). “The trick is in the way Mr. Paschal would brine the chicken before frying,” Evans says. “He salted the pieces skin-side up, drizzled each with a little water, and stacked them on top of one another.” To embellish the plate, he channels other Atlanta institutions, taking inspiration from Gladys Knight and Ron Winans’ Chicken & Waffles but also incorporating cracklin’ cornbread flavors from Harold’s Barbecue into the waffle and gilding it with peach chutney.
1 (3 1/2–pound) fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or 16 large chicken wings with wing joints)
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup water
3 cups lard, shortening, or peanut oil for deep frying
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated garlic (or 1 tablespoon garlic powder)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup water
8 Cracklin’ Cornmeal Waffles
Peach Chutney (served on the side)
Cracklin’ Cornmeal Waffles:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) pork cracklings (or diced seasoned pork rind or belly, cooked in a skillet until crisp)
1/4 cup hot, melted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups peeled and chopped fresh (or thawed frozen) peaches
1/2 cup small diced red onion
1/4 cup small diced green pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 small jalapeño pepper, minced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1. Make fried chicken: Place chicken pieces in a container large enough to hold them and sprinkle each piece liberally with salt, and just enough water to moisten. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. Remove chicken from refrigerator. In a deep-fat fryer or deep, heavy skillet, heat lard or shortening to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, garlic, salt, and pepper; divide between two flat dishes. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with water.
3. Dip chicken pieces into the first pan of seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour, then dip into egg wash. Drain off excess, then dip into the other container of seasoned flour and press flour into chicken pieces. Shake, then add to the hot fat a few pieces at a time (do not crowd) and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 10 to 20 minutes depending on size of the pieces. Drain on paper towels. Reseason with salt if desired. Serve immediately with waffles, chutney, and optional syrup. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
4. Make waffles: Preheat lightly oiled waffle iron. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and blend together. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and water. Make a well in center of dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, and mix just until combined (a few lumps are okay). Fold in cracklings and melted butter.
5. Spoon about 1/2 to cup batter into preheated waffle iron; with back of a spoon, spread to within 1/4 inch of edge of grids. Close lid and bake until golden brown. Remove to a baking pan or plate and keep warm in preheated oven; repeat with rest of batter. Serve warm with chicken, or with butter and syrup. Makes 6 to 8 waffles.
6. Make chutney: Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add peaches, onion, and pepper and saute 3 to 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.
7. Add vinegar, wine, and brown sugar and bring to a boil (use less liquid if using frozen peaches). Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, then add minced jalapeño pepper and chopped parsley.
8. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill until ready to serve; bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 3 cups.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
This recipe originally appeared in our November 2012 issue.