“Chicken” & Chili Cornbread Waffles

One thing I absolutely love about my girlfriends is that they’re all into food. I have known girls at various stages and phases of my life who just don’t like food. Usually, that was because of a body image problem, but some just had no interest in it. I have never been one of those girls. I have always loved food – granted, a lot of times it was not good for me food – but I always liked it. Lucky Charms for breakfast? Yes, please! Pizza for dinner? Of course! Big Mac? Yes, when the mood struck. It took me a long time to get into healthy foods. I was never a big salad person growing up, but now as an adult, I actually crave salads. Giant, veggie filled beds of kale. I could probably eat my weight in kale. But I do still have a taste for the “bad” foods too. Or shall we say – the foods to eat in moderation. Which is why I especially adore my friends who feel the same way.

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That said, the majority of my girlfriends are also meat and cheese eaters. I don’t judge – we all get to make our own choices – and they return the favor. No judgement here. Or as I’ve been told numerous times I’m not  an “annoying” vegan. I roll with the punches, don’t make a big fuss, and generally make any restaurant work. Maybe it’s my nonchalantness about my food choices that also makes my girlfriends agree to let me experiment with recipes on them. It seems like no big deal.

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Last weekend I decided that instead of going out to brunch with my friend, I wanted to try out a new recipe. Luckily for me, she’s an adventurous foodie and was open to pretty much anything I was thinking of making. She even said she’d be down with tofu! Instead, I decided to play on her southern roots and see if I could come up with something that would wow her. The first thing I thought of was chicken and waffles.

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I had awesome “chicken” and waffles at a great restaurant on the Lower East Side not too long ago, and I decided for the “chicken” part – I would use a southern fried seitan recipe I’ve used in the past. As for waffles – well, I wanted to go a little nontraditional there and came up with a cornbread waffle that I gave an extra kick to with some added chili spice.

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Now, I don’t exactly have a waffle maker. Which was somewhat problematic when deciding to whip up this recipe. Luckily for me, I have a good friend who lives nearby who is a newlywed. I figured if anyone was bound to have a waffle iron, it was her. And I was right! I scooted up to her place, picked it up, and in no time was making waffles of my own. For the waffles, I went for a bit more savory batter – I used a small amount of sugar – and really let the topping of maple syrup be the source of sweet. It ended up being a really good choice, with the overall meal being slightly sweet but not too rich, with just the right amount of spice.

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I prepped and mixed all the ingredients first, so that when I needed to start frying and waffle-making, I could pretty much do it all at the same time. I kept the “chicken” in the oven on warm while the last waffle was finishing up. I have to say, the combination was pretty darn delicious. And it got rave reviews from my brunch guest. The seitan was crispy and even though it broke into smaller strips after soaking in milk and being tossed in flour, it was actually the best when crispy. She was raving about the texture and the flavor of the cornbread in the waffle. All in all? A serious success. Now I might just have to go out and buy my own waffle iron so I can make it all again!

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'Chicken' & Chili Cornbread Waffles {vegan}

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

What You’ll Need for the “Chicken”:

  • 1 8 ounce package of seitan strips
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (for frying)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • dash cayenne pepper

What You’ll Need for the Waffles:

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups cornbread mix or cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (for gluten-free waffles, sub gluten-free all purpose flour and 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

What You’ll Do:

  1. Start with the seitan. Mix the almond milk and cornstarch in a shallow dish or bowl, add seitan and set aside.
  2. Mix the remaining milk – for the waffles – with the apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle.
  3. Turn on the waffle iron and let preheat.
  4. Mix the flour for the seitan and spices into a plastic bag, and working in batches, drop the wet seitan into the bag and shake until the pieces are well coated. Set aside.
  5. Mix the dry waffle ingredients – the flour, cornbread mix, baking powder, sugar, salt, and chili powder – in a large bowl.
  6. Add the canola oil to the now curdled milk and apple cider vinegar.
  7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until everything is well incorporated.
  8. Start heating the oil for frying. I like to use medium-high heat and a wok or other deep frying pan – this will keep the oil from jumping out and burning you.
  9. Add about 1 cup of batter to the waffle iron and start cooking your first waffle. Repeat until all batter is gone.
  10. To check if your oil is ready for frying, wet your fingers with water and flick a tiny amount into the pan. If it sizzles, the oil is ready for frying.
  11. Working in batches (while still keeping an eye on your waffle), add the breaded seitan to the pan, flipping to fry both sides until they’re golden brown.
  12. For any waffles or seitan that’s done before the full batch, place on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 degrees to keep warm.
  13. Serve with maple syrup and hot sauce (if you like) and enjoy!


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