Waffle Chicken Sandwiches? Jimmy Gawne Says, "Yes."
I have been baking almost as long as I’ve been playing the piano. It was part of my upbringing – making Christmas cookies every year with my parents. As I got older, I took on more and more of the responsibilities myself, until Christmas of 2004. That was the year that my car was in the shop, having its transmission rebuilt, I had nothing better to do, and I ended up making over 1,300 Christmas cookies. The next two years, when I lived in Los Angeles, I didn’t do much – my tiny apartment kitchen wasn’t exactly conducive to making a lot of cookies – but from 2007 to 2009, when I was living in Phoenix and had access to my parents’ MASSIVE kitchen, I made more than 1,000 Christmas cookies each year, culminating with my 125 dozen cookie odyssey in 2009.
When I moved to North Carolina in August of 2010, I thought I might get to cut back on the baking a little. After all, I no longer lived in a place where it was convenient for me to make cookies for everybody on my parents’ Christmas cookie list, and I really couldn’t think of any other reason to bake. However, that was when I saw a Div Social* e-mail from Shannon Axtell (MDiv ’11) asking for people to bake for Coffee Hour. I signed up at that point, and it would be easy to say that the rest is history…
Except that I started trying to do bigger and better things over the course of the year, with my peak during the 2010-11 school year perhaps being the Guinness Double Chocolate Brownies I made for St. Patrick’s Day. I never would’ve thought that could’ve been topped – except that for the very first coffee hour in September of 2011, I made Epic Bacon Cheesecake Brownies**. As the school year has worn on, I’ve kept making new and different things, but then…
Then one morning, I discovered the Mantastic Chicken ‘n’ Waffle Sandwich. I happened across it on the Internet – I don’t even remember where – but it turned out to be a Betty Crocker recipe. That afternoon, I got to talking about it with Jeremy Carlton (MDiv ’12) and Alex Gallimore (MDiv ’12)… and the magic began.
“What if we actually made those?” Alex asked. “What if we got together one day and MADE them?”
So that Saturday, we did just that. Alex provided the waffle iron, the deep fryer, and the chicken. I provided the beer waffle batter, the bourbon-butter-maple syrup, the bacon, and the grilled onions. Jeremy provided the venue. And that rainy February Saturday afternoon, we put together a thing of beauty – a beer waffle, with three strips of bacon on top of that, with a fried chicken breast on top of that, with grilled onions on top of that; drizzle syrup over the whole thing, and top it with a second beer waffle.
They weren’t even remotely good for us. But they were phenomenally delicious. And were it not for my obsession with baking… they never would have happened.