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Xen Lounge’s Chicken & Waffles with Maple Creme and Bacon

From: Chef Neil Shuman, Xen Lounge, Studio City, CA.  

Yield: varies.

½ gallon water
½ cup kosher salt
1⁄8 cup sugar
6 bay leaves
¼ cup juniper berries
2 Tbsp. red chili flakes
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
¼ bunch of thyme sprigs
grated zest of 2 large lemons
4 chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
as needed, oil for deep-frying
to taste, kosher salt
per order, 3 slices cooked bacon

3 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄8 cup garlic powder
2 tsp. pimenton (paprika)
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Waffle Batter:
1¾ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
1¾ cups milk
½ cup vegetable oil

Maple Creme:
1 cup creme fraiche
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1½ Tbsp. (or to taste) cayenne pepper sauce
to taste, kosher salt

For brine: Combine all ingredients in medium-size pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool properly.

For coating: Combine all ingredients.

For waffle batter: Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. Add wet ingredients except for egg whites. Stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Whip egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into batter.

For maple creme: Whisk all ingredients together and reserve for plating.

Place chicken in brine for 1 hour, then remove from brine and rinse under cold water. Dry with a towel; cut on bias into ½-inch strips.

Heat oil to 325°F. When hot, dredge 4 chicken strips in buttermilk, then flour. Place chicken in oil and fry until golden brown and fully cooked, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels; season with salt.

While chicken is frying, place 2 oz. waffle batter on preheated, oiled waffle cone maker. Close lid but do not latch shut. Cook until very light brown and still pliable, about 1½ minutes.

Place 4 chicken strips along with 3 slices of cooked bacon on waffle. Drizzle with maple creme. Roll into cone shape.

Photography courtesy of Xen Lounge

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