I wish I could claim that my idea for this project came from some sort of divine inspiration, or at the very least, from someplace that would make a good story.
Wouldn’t it be great if I’d been awake for three days straight, sitting in a dingy makeshift nightclub with galvanized roofing panels for walls and dirt for a floor, cold benzedrine sweat rolling down my back in the 100 degree heat, waiting for a ragtag bunch of hard blues musicians to finish setting up so they can bring the house down for yet another night in a row? Sensing that I need something to eat, a too-slender waitress in a mottled pink dress would set a plate of spicy fried chicken served on a bed of waffles down in front of me, nodding wordlessly as she waved a lazily circling fly away from my plate. I would alternate between bites of the hot, crunchy chicken, the juices running clear from the tines of the fork as I stabbed each mouthful, and bites of the fluffy, buttery waffles, drizzled with sweet maple syrup. Smiling, I would remind myself to write the recipe down for later, when I would finally get myself straight enough to hitchhike to my home back North which, though I couldn’t have known it at the time, had burned straight to the ground only a week earlier.
Instead, I woke up late one weekend, in my very cozy bed in Midcoast Maine, with one phrase rattling around my otherwise empty head: “Eggo Mini Nachos,” with miniature frozen waffles replacing the corn tortilla chips in ordinary nachos. Though I didn’t know quite what my sleepy brain meant at the time, I realized that it was an idea that had the potential to tear apart the very fabric of the internet, and I set to work right away. Here’s what I came up with.
For the spice rub:
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
For the maple mustard syrup:
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 16 miniature frozen waffles
- Peanut oil, for frying
- 1/4 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
- Mexican crema our sour cream, to taste
- Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
For the Spice Rub:
- Combine garlic powder, celery salt, chili powder, paprika, and chipotle. Sprinkle evenly over chicken, tossing well so that chicken is coated on all sides with spice mixture.
For the Maple Mustard Syrup
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine maple syrup, brown mustard, and butter. Heat until butter melts and mixture bubble. Stir well, remove from heat, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Set up your dredging station: Flour on one plate, beaten egg on another. Toss seasoned chicken first in egg, then in flour. Working in batches, cook chicken pieces, turning occasionally, until chicken is brown and crunchy on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to paper towel-lined plate.
- Prepare waffles according to package instructions. Break cooked waffles apart (if needed), and arrange eight waffles in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle waffles with 1/4 of the grated cheese, then half of the chicken, then another 1/4 of the cheese. Add another layer of eight cooked waffles, then 1/4 of the cheese, then the other half of the chicken, then the remaining 1/4 of the cheese. Bake until cheese melts, about five minutes.
- Remove from oven, and drizzle finished nachos with maple mustard syrup, Mexican crema or sour cream, and Sriracha. Serve immediately.