Time: 1 hour
A few months ago, I had the chick'n and waffles in a warm maple hot sauce at Crossroads in LA and it was fantastic. Before that, I'd never had traditional chicken and waffles, but I get the allure: battered something with crispy-carby something, smothered in butter and drizzled with something sweet. It's comfort food at it's best.
Although you could make this with prepared vegan chick'n, I used cauliflower steaks which gave it a nice succulent texture and slightly buttery flavor. The ratio of crispiness to cauliflower steak was perfect, and it fried up with a beautiful golden color. But what makes this "chick'n" go from great to spectacular is dragging it through a sticky blend of spicy sriracha and sweet maple syrup that clings to the steaks perfectly and oozes and slides into all the nooks and crannies of the cauliflower once it's cut. The waffles here are stuffed with a little ginger and scallions, putting an Asian-inspired twist on this Southern US-based dish.
for the waffles
1 cup AP flour
2 TB Ener-G
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup any kind of nut milk
2 TB cornstarch
1 TB canola oil
2 tsp coconut vinegar
2 scallions, chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated on a microplane grater
for the vegan chick'n
3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 TB Ener-G
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion granules
1/4 tsp white pepper (black is also fine)
1 1/4 cup fizzy water
2, 1 1/2-inch thick cauliflower steaks, cut into 2 pieces for 4 small steaks
canola oil, for frying
for the sriracha-maple syrup (double or triple to taste)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 TB sriracha
To make the waffle batter, combine the dry waffle ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients into another. Pour the wet batter into the dry and gently stir, taking care not to overmix the batter. Fold in the ginger and scallions and set aside.
To make the batter for the vegan chick'n, combine all of the ingredients except for the fizzy water and cauliflower in a bowl. Add in the water and stir gently to mix, taking care not to overmix. Allow the batter to sit for about 10 minutes to become smooth.
To make the sriracha syrup, combine the maple syrup and sriracha together. Adjust to taste, and double if you like lots of syrup. Set aside.
When you are ready to fry the cauliflower, place several inches of oil into a heavy small pot. (I use Lodge's small cast iron pot as a dedicated fryer.) Heat over medium-high for about 7 minutes. Test the oil's readiness by throwing a pinch of the wet chick'n batter into it—if it fries immediately, you are ready to go. You can also insert a wooden spoon into the oil so it touches the bottom. If bubbles immediately form around the spoon, you are ready to fry.
Working in batches of two, dredge the cauliflower through the vegan chick'n batter and slowly place into the oil. Fry until golden brown, flipping them once or twice to ensure even frying. Place on paper towels to drain.
To make the waffles, preheat your waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.
To serve, drag the chick'n through the sriracha-maple syrup until well coated. Serve the waffles with vegan butter and garnish as desired.