This month, we tackled two waffles from Syracuse’s beloved waffle joint, Funk ‘n Waffles. Our favorite items on their menu are the Chicken & Waffles plate and the famous Jive Turkey.
Funk’s Chicken & Waffles features the restaurant’s signature buttermilk-battered chicken tenders. They’re outrageously good but we had no idea how to replicate them.
Our grand experiment started by soaking boneless chicken thighs in buttermilk for four hours. We breaded them in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper and thyme. Then we pan-fried the tenders in hot oil until brown, and set them aside to cool.
We used a buttermilk waffle mix from Auburn’s New Hope Mills (buy local!) and topped it with the fried chicken and a generous drizzle of Vermont maple syrup.
How funky was our chicken? Not funky enough. The meat tasted fine, though our bland breading was nowhere near as crispy and well-seasoned as the real thing.
The Jive Turkey is a whole Thanksgiving meal in a loaded stuffing waffle, piled high with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. It’s a genius menu item (and my go-to hangover cure when I was a Syracuse University student).
We made stuffing from scratch using week-old garlic bread torn into bite-sized pieces (dry, stale bread works best for homemade stuffing). We fried up diced celery and onions in half a stick of butter, and mixed it with the torn bread, along with fresh chopped rosemary, sage, salt and pepper.
To add moisture and flavor, we whisked together one egg with a cup of chicken broth and poured it over the stuffing, then baked it at 350 degrees in a casserole dish. Easy.
The not-so-easy part? Making the stuffing waffle. Funk ‘n Waffles obviously has a better system, because the stuffing did not do well in our home waffle iron, even with cooking spray. Refusing to crisp up or take the waffle shape, it was too soggy to lift neatly out of the iron. I shook my head in shame and turned the iron upside down over a plate. I would never be a Funk waffle master.
Thankfully, my misshapen stuffing waffle still tasted good, and I could cover the mess with the pile of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. We used roasted turkey from our Wegmans deli (sliced extra thick) and pan-fried it before serving.
It wasn’t a total failure, but I’d never feel confident enough to serve this waffle to another human being. Dejected, we ate our mediocre waffles and commiserated over the distinct absence of funk in our lives during this pandemic.
Luckily, Funk ‘n Waffles remains open for takeout and delivery even though it’s in the Orange Zone. You can find the menu at funknwaffles.square.site/s/order and call (315) 474-1060 to order. It’s not the same as digging into a James Brownie after a night of bar-hopping, but hey, it’s the little things.
The pandemic has been difficult for all of us. But one small ray of light during the shutdown is the gift of time. Home cooks everywhere can perfect a few new recipes during this time, whether it’s Pasta’s spicy hot tomato oil or Eva’s pierogi.
Cheers to all the amateur cooks out there. Stay healthy and safe this winter.
COVID-19 COOKING SHOW episodes:
Make the Calabrian pizza at Apizza Regionale at home
Make the giant frittata from Mother’s Cupboard at home
Make the Hofmann coney from Heid’s at home
Make the catfish burrito from Alto Cinco at home
Make Eva’s famous pierogi at home
Make Pasta’s spicy hot tomato oil at home
Make Dinosaur Bar-B-Que inspired ribs at home