I officially became a vegetarian when I was about 22 years old. In those 22 years I had never heard of chicken and waffles – it wasn’t a thing in New York. I moved out to LA when I was 33 and everyone wanted to meet at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles before drinks. I showed up later for drinks. The closest I ever came to Roscoe’s in LA was rewatching Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. Being a New Yorker, I like to watch sporting events (the few I do watch) and election debates in bars – so during the 2012 election, I watched the debates from a bar on Pico located very close to a Roscoe’s. Turns out the person I was talking to next to me was Herb Hudson – the founder of Roscoe’s. He is a Harlem native and we talked a lot about NYC vs LA. He suggested I visit Roscoe’s noting that Obama had made a stop at a Roscoe’s, but once I told him I was vegetarian the conversation came to an abrupt halt. I have often been curious about the appeal of chicken and waffles. So I created a chicken-fried mushroom with a gluten-free and dairy-free nut crust. And put it on top of a gluten-free dairy free waffle. And topped it with sweet fruit toppings, green veggieful toppings, savory toppings, spicy toppings. Savory. Sweet. Soft and Crunchy. Chicken and waffles. I get it now.
Earlier this year I started a dinner party to create a safe space to talk about tough topics, typically not suitable for meal time conversation, while dining on exquisite vegetarian food crafted for the occasion…and then I blog about it. For March, over brunch, we discussed issues associated with the LGBTQ community and how rights may help those issues, while eating a three course meal. All the food was representative of the topic – we as individuals are unique and there is more than what you see, we are all different on the inside. The main course was vegetarian “chicken” and waffle. I made my own fried chicken starting with vital wheat gluten and then breading with egg, panko and flour and made both buttermilk and cornbread waffles.
It was delicious, but I wanted to make something just as tasty using whole foods without gluten or dairy. I had remembered a recipe from years ago that turned a flattened maitake mushroom into fried chicken – using the typical eggs and flour. I had received maitake mushroom in my CSA box and decided to recreate the recipe, but my way. Chicken-fried mushroom crusted with nuts using coconut milk. Oh. So. Tasty.
Every so often we receive maitake mushrooms in our CSA box. I also see them at the store in packages.
Maitake are also called hen of the woods, king mushrooms, and sheep’s head and are most often found in the Northeast in America but are grown elsewhere. They grow into large mushrooms and may seem intimidating but the leaves come off easily and can be included in any dish you use mushrooms in.
The key is to the “chicken” is to flatten the mushroom – as it cooks and the oils and water are released, it can be pressed. To do this I lay out the mushrooms and spray it with coconut oil and sprinkle a mixture of salt, pepper and herbs onto it.
Place it in an oiled skillet and press down with a cast iron pan – or another heavy pan.
Cook it for 4 minutes, gently flip the mushroom, sprinkle with the salt, pepper, herb mixture, press down and cook for another four minutes. Repeat the process until the mushroom is flat and golden brown.
Let the mushroom rest in a mixture of coconut milk and hot sauce for at least 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make the nut “breading” by grinding the nuts and mixing with tapioca and coconut flour as well as spices.Gently coat the soaked mushroom in coconut flour, then dip back into coconut milk, and then into breading until the whole mushroom is coated.
One breaded, heat up cooking oil to about 375 degrees F and gently fry the mushroom for 3-7 minutes until golden brown on each side.
Let rest on a paper towel.
And then eat it. Serve on top of a waffle, with mashed root veg and greens, dipped in ketchup, in a sandwich or how ever you want. I taste tested it with a cabbage jalapeno slaw, avocado crema, sprouts and pico de gallo.
So I had to try it on the waffle. So I have posted a waffle before but created it with eggs. I wanted to challenge myself with a vegan waffle. Cornbread waffles are tasty with the fried “chicken” but I am still working on a cornflour based mixture that hold together without gluten or eggs. I like working with butternut squash as it is both savory and sweet.
Make a batter using fresh butternut squash puree (canned puree will change the flavor), along with freshly ground rolled oats, coconut milk, almond flour, baking powder, spices and either maple syrup or pureed dates for sweetness (I tried both and they are equally good).
Spray the heated waffle maker generously with coconut oil as gluten-free batters tend to stick. I used a Belgian waffle maker but I find this works better in a regular waffle maker as the batter is too airy and does not have the gluten or eggs to hold it together in such a big waffle. Fill the waffle maker generously – I find this batter does not fill in holes like a normal batter.
Gently open when done as the waffle will likely stick.
The waffle was very very tasty on its own and topped with the chicken fried mushroom, a honey maple dijon sauce and greens.
I topped another one with a a fresh strawberry syrup.
Also, to change things up, I made pancakes with the same batter and topped the chicken fried mushroom with hatch pepper guacamole, cabbage jalapeno slaw and pico de gallo.
The recipes are below for the “chicken” and waffle. If you are interested in some of the toppings I mentioned, they can be found on the Food and Fundamental Rights blog. Like this blog, it is a work in progress – a side project to this side project, so be gentle on its look and feel.
How will you eat your chicken fried mushroom and waffle? I am so happy I took on this experiment. If I run into Herb Hudson again, perhaps we can talk about toppings and combinations. Happy eating!
Chicken fried Maitake
- 1 Tbs pink Himalayan salt
- 1 Tbs Herbs de Provence (or rosemary, thyme, basil, tarragon, savory, lavender mixture)
- 1 Tbs black pepper
- Coconut oil or olive oil
- 3 large maitake mushroom clusters
- 2 cups light coconut milk, mixed
- 1/3 cup hot sauce (add more if you prefer spicy)
- 1 + 1 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne (add more if prefer spicy)
- 1 cup oil for frying
In a small bowl, combine, salt, herbs de Provence and black pepper. Set aside.
Heat cast iron skillet or heavy duty sauce pan to med heat. Lay out mushrooms on a sheet pan and spray or dab a small amount of oil all over the mushrooms and into the skillet. Sprinkle some of the salt, pepper, herb mixture on the mushrooms. Place a mushroom into the heated pan and place a second cast iron pan – or something heavy to create a press, on top of the mushroom. Cook for 2 -3 minutes then flip over carefully as the mushrooms break easily. Sprinkle a bit more of seasoning and then press with pan again. Repeat so each side is cooked at least 2 times but at least until mushrooms are pressed flat into light golden brown patty with no liquid in the pan. Remove mushrooms from heat and cool.
In a small bowl, mix coconut milk with hot sauce. Soak mushrooms in coconut milk hot sauce for at least 10 minutes – but can be kept in liquid mixture until ready to bread and cook.
In a food processor, chop pecans and almonds until forms a meal with no large chunks. Place into a bowl and whisk together with 1 cup coconut flour, tapioca flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
In a separate bowl, place 1 cup of coconut flour.
Lightly dredge the mushroom patty in coconut flour, dip back into coconut milk mixture, and then in nut mixture until fully coated.
These can be fried or baked. Baking will result in a softer crust.
To fry, heat a cast iron pan with oil so it is 1/4 to 1/2 deep with a temperature about 375 degrees F. Test the oil with a small bit of the flour – it should bubble up immediately, but should not be smoking. Fry each piece for several minutes on each side until golden brown, when done let sit on paper towels or paper bag to drain excess oil.
To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or brush top of breaded shroom patties with coconut oil. Bake for 30-35 min until crusty. Check after about 25 min to be careful to not overcook.
Serve on top of a waffle, with mashed root veg and greens, topped with cabbage slaw and pico de gallo, in a sandwich or how ever you want.
Butternut Squash Oat Waffle
- 1 ¼ cups coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup regular rolled oats, divided
- 1 ½ cup almond flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup fresh butternut squash puree
- 3 tablespoons melted extra-virgin coconut oil, plus more for waffle iron, or a spray coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or 2 dates soaked and pureed
Preheat waffle iron. In medium bowl, combine coconut milk and lemon juice and set aside for 5 minutes. Grind the oats (spice grinder or food processor) until coarsely ground and place in a medium bowl. Add to a separate bowl and whisk with almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and nutmeg; stir to combine.
Add pumpkin puree, coconut oil, maple or date syrup to milk/lemon and stir until evenly combined. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Generously oil the top and bottom of waffle iron and spoon in approximately half a cup of batter for each waffle. Cook for about 4 minutes or until top is crisp and deeply golden. When checking waffles lift lid carefully, as gluten-free batter can tends to stick.