It seems like most upscale Southern-style restaurants nowadays are doing version of down-home chicken and waffles, and who can blame them? Crispy fried chicken served over delicious waffles, and then drizzled with maple syrup, it’s just heavenly! Since the chicken and waffles craze began, my husband has taken it upon himself to become a professional taste tester of the dish; if it’s on the menu he orders it practically every time we go out! I, on the other hand, try to resist this comfort food classic because, let’s face it, carbs and deep-fried chicken aren’t exactly waistline friendly.
However, since I do love this combination, I decided to lighten it up a bit, and put a twist one of our favorite chicken and waffle dishes. I used my “go-to” baked chicken tender recipe that I have been making for years, and I gave it a Cajun kick for this recipe. I also came up with a savory waffle recipe using some sharp cheddar cheese—don’t knock it til you try it! And, of course, I do drizzle on the maple syrup because you just have to have it for this dish to really shine.
This recipe can be served for brunch or dinner. I like to pair it with something light, just some fresh watermelon for brunch or some sort of green for dinner. Even though it is a lightened-up version of the classic, it’s still very satisfying and filling. Oh, and don’t worry, Zach gave this one his seal of approval. He is a pro at chicken and waffle taste testing, after all!
LIGHT CAJUN CHICKEN AND WAFFLES
For the Chicken Tenders
- 1 ½ lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. hot sauce
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 ½ tsp. cajun seasoning
- cooking spray
For the Waffles
- 2 cups white whole-wheat flour (may substitute all purpose)
- 4 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 400˚. Place a cooking rack on top of a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
- Place chicken tenders in a large zip top bag along with flour, salt and pepper; shake until chicken is coated.
- In a shallow dish or bowl, whisk together eggs, hot sauce and 1 tablespoon of water. In another dish, combine panko crumbs and Cajun seasoning.
- Dredge the flour-coated tenders in the egg mixture, then in panko mixture (press crumbs into chicken to ensure they stick), and place on baking sheet.
- Once all tenders are coated, spray them thoroughly with cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes.
- While the chicken is baking, preheat the waffle iron. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, milk and oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until just combined.
- Lastly stir in the cheese. Spray the iron with cooking spray and cook the waffles until golden. Serve the chicken tenders over the waffles and drizzle with maple syrup.
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