Updated: July 21, 2012 6:06AM
If it weren’t for those long, lazy summertime Sunday brunches, the weekends would go by in a blur. But we have those to thank for putting off Monday mornings just a little longer. Sleeping in past breakfast, waking up to the smell of coffee, watering the flowers, taking the time to read the Sunday papers — it’s all part of the lovely change in the seasonal routine.
Brunch is the first meal of the day on summertime Sundays. And what a meal. It’s too late in the day to scarf down a bowl of cereal, but too early for something so ceremoniously seasonal as barbecued food. That leaves a lot of Sunday brunchers in a peculiar predicament. Are there ideal summertime brunch foods?
Of course there are. And one of the best is a variation of the classic chicken and waffles dish. This staple at Southern diners already exudes the lifeblood of hot summer breakfasts in its own way. It’s hard to imagine a Southern garden party with sweet tea, deviled eggs, smooth drawls and good manners without chicken ’n’ waffles being in the picture.
But this adaptation trumps the original rendition for taste, creativity and brunch propriety. Boneless fried chicken tenders sliced into bite-sized pieces top a crunchy Belgian waffle triangle, making it the perfect finger food for a sunny brunch celebration. Instead of thick white gravy, this waffley breakfast hors d’oeuvre is sweetened with a maple and peach preserve sauce that pops with a hint of heat from diced jalapeno. It’s not too heavy, but this chicken and waffle dish sure isn’t the average breakfast food either.
Make your waffles in a traditional Belgian waffle iron. Crispy and ready, the waffle breaks beautifully into quarters — the ideal tiny foundation for the chicken topper.
Preparing ahead for a large-scale brunch? No problem. Bag up and freeze the waffle pieces until the morning of your brunch, then toast them in a 200-degree oven until they return to their natural crispness. Often enough, the waffles don’t reach their full crispness straight out of the waffle iron anyway, so keeping a warm oven ready is a good idea.
Chicken and Waffles with JalapeÑo-Peach Syrup
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons), melted
2 cups buttermilk
8 to 12 prepared fried chicken tenders, cut into pieces
JalapeÑo Peach Syrup
1 cup peach preserves
1/4 to 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, butter and buttermilk. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just combined.
Prepare waffles in preheated waffle iron, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray according to manufacturer’s directions. When each waffle is done and cooled, break into quarters and keep toasted in an oven at about 200 degrees.
Top each quarter of waffle with bite-sized pieces of boneless fried chicken tenders and drizzle with jalapeño peach maple sauce. Serve.
For the sauce, gradually whisk in maple syrup (about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup) to the peach preserves in a medium bowl until you get your desired consistency. Mix in chopped jalapeños and season with salt and pepper to taste.