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Fried Chicken and Waffles with Bourbon Maple Syrup


For the syrup

¾ cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons bourbon

Pinch of salt

For the brine

2½ cups white vinegar

3 garlic cloves

4 bay leaves

½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

For the waffles

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

For the chicken

2 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks, brined

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup flour for coating

5 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon black pepper

2-3 quarts vegetable oil for frying

Extra salt for seasoning

For the garnish

12 pods pickled okra (store-bought or homemade- find a recipe at

½ pound aged sheep's milk cheese, grated on a Microplane (Lee recommends Everona Dairy's Piedmont or any manchego-style cheese)


  1. Make the syrup: In a small pot over low heat, warm maple syrup. Add bourbon and salt and simmer for 2 minutes. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. Make the brine: In a medium-sized sauce pot, combine all brine ingredients with 2½ cups water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, turn off heat, and let the brine cool to room temperature. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl. Add chicken parts to brine and cover tightly. Leave in fridge and brine overnight (or at least 10 hours). Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. While the chicken is drying, make the waffles. Preheat a waffle maker and lightly oil it. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, paprika, nutmeg, and black pepper. In a separate small bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk. While whisking, pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients a little at a time. Cook the waffles according to waffle maker’s instructions. Reserve cooked waffles on a plate at room temperature.
  4. Make the chicken: Pour buttermilk into a bowl, and in a separate bowl, combine the flour with the 4 teaspoons of salt, paprika, and black pepper. Dip each chicken piece in buttermilk, then shake off any excess liquid. Immediately dredge in flour mixture and transfer to a plate. Repeat this step with remaining chicken. Leave dredged chicken pieces on a plate at room temperature for 15 minutes. The floured surface will turn a little soft.
  5. Meanwhile, fill a large cast-iron skillet about halfway full with vegetable oil and heat to 365 degrees. Cook the chicken 2 or 3 pieces at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, turning every minute, depending on how thick the cut of chicken is. Be careful to keep the oil temperature at around 350 to 365 degrees. The chicken is cooked when its internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees. Using tongs, lift chicken out of oil and drain on paper towels. Season again with remaining salt.
  6. To assemble: Reheat waffles in a 300-degree oven for 3 minutes. Serve fried chicken over waffles. Drizzle syrup over chicken and top with grated cheese. Add a few pickled okra spears to plate. Serve immediately
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