Chef Jesse Jones' Chicken & Waffles

I don't know that I've met many people who work harder, or with more passion, than Chef Jesse Jones. The man has had a vision and pursued it for as long as I've known him! To finally see that vision realized in the pages of his cookbook is incredibly satisfying. A nice reminder to keep going, keep struggling, because you WILL get there. 


Chef J has joined me in the Cucina before - sharing recipes for grilled pork tenderloin and steaks - but this recipe is special because it's straight from his new book. One of the many "feasts" contained within it - and in this particular case, dedicated to his eldest son. Chef Jesse completely embodies the Cucina concept of "stories from the kitchen table" with each recipe and meal reflecting a memory, a person, a part of his own history. All food has a story...this is part of his. And I'm so grateful he was willing to share it with me! 

This classic dish, born in Harlem, becomes easy to make with Chef Jesse's instructions. The chicken is flavorful, crisp and juicy. The waffle, light and fluffy. And they combine to make an incredible, and yes, very rich, meal! If you're looking to lighten things up - congratulations - you're cooking at home, so you can do WHATEVER you want! Even Chef J says you can skip the brine if avoiding salt, or change up the dredge. This is his recipe, and his way - but we both encourage you to make your food, your own!

You can purchase Chef Jesse's book here.

Watch the video and scroll down to snag this recipe!

Buon Appetito!


Southern Fried Chicken
Serves 4

3-4 lbs. chicken
1 qt. buttermilk
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 C. all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. cornstarch

Prepare the dredge by blending the dried herbs with the flour and cornstarch in a shallow bowl or brown paper bag. 

The day before you plan to serve, fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1/4 C. kosher salt. Put chicken pieces in the brine and refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours. 

Life the chicken from the brine. Rinse and drain. Now place the brined chicken in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Add hot sauce. Soak in refrigerator for another 8 hours. Then drain. 

place chicken pieces in dredge, shake well to coat the pieces, and shake off any excess flour. 

In a 5-quart heavy pot or deep skillet, add 48 oz peanut, soy or other vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat to 365°F. Cook chicken, four pieces at a time, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through to an internal temperature of 140°F (about 20 minutes). 

Drain on paper towels or a wire rack. POW! Serve with additional hot sauce.

Chef Jesse's Sweet Potato Waffles
Serves 4

2 C. cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 tsp. light brown sugar
3 large eggs, separate yolks from whites
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
1/2 C. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 small sweet potato, baked, peeled and mashed

Preheat a waffled iron

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.

In a second bowl combine egg yolks, buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla and sweet potato.

Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix gently until combined. Don't overtax. 

Beat the egg whites until frothy and fluffy and gently fold them into the waffle mix. Let the batter rest a few minutes.

Spray the waffle iron with oil and ladle 4-6 oz. of the batter onto the iron. Add more batter it needed to fill iron. Close and cook until golden brown (according to iron instructions). 

Serve waffles with fried chicken on top. POW!