Waffle-Crusted Buffalo Chicken Tenders
FOR THE CHICKEN TENDERS
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup Frank's RedHot sauce (or your favorite brand)
- Frozen waffles
- 1 cup flour
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Oil for frying
FOR THE SPICY MAPLE SAUCE
- ½ cup Frank's RedHot sauce (or your favorite brand)
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup maple syrup
How to Make It
Slice the chicken into evenly-sized strips and/or chunks. Chicken thighs vary in size and shape, so don't stress tremendously—this is just to ensure relatively even cooking. Everything will be fine. Put the chicken in a lidded container, mix hot sauce, buttermilk, and a hefty pinch of salt, and pour over chicken. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight, shaking a few times to make sure the chicken is evenly covered.
Bake frozen waffles at 325°F for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Bake as long as needed for the waffles to completely dry out. Note: Frozen waffles also vary wildly in size, but figure on using around 5 to 6, and you can always cook more, or use the crumbs elsewhere. This, again, is all just fine. Break the cooked, cooled waffles into pieces into a food processor and pulse until you have a mixture of fine crumbs and larger shards. If you feel like being incredibly ambitious, you can make waffles from scratch and do this, but really just follow your bliss.
Heat a deep fryer to 350°F. (Note, you can also pan-fry in an inch of oil and a heavy, deep vessel. Please be careful. I worry.) Set out three bowls and fill with half the flour (seasoned to taste with salt and pepper), egg, and half the waffle crumbs. Dredge the buttermilk-covered chicken pieces in flour, then egg, then waffle crumbs, and set aside until you have enough to fill a fryer basket with pieces without crowding. Top up the dry ingredients in the bowl as you go, if they get too damp and gross.
Fry the chicken for 3 minutes, pull from the oil to make sure that they are not over-browning, and fry for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Let the hot strips rest and drain onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet or plate.
Whisk together hot sauce, butter, and syrup, adjusting the ratio for your personal taste. I want you to be happy.
Serve the chicken with a side of sauce while it's all still hot. Know joy.