If you’ve given up meat — or are just trying to cut back a bit —there are some dishes that, inevitably, you’re going to crave. For us, one of those dishes is homey, hearty chicken & waffles, a classic Pennsylvania lunch that is comfort food defined. We asked Chef Josh Fidler to come up with a more breakfast-y take of this dish, and he used his awesome chef brain to come up with an epic version that is vegetarian, to boot.
For a chicken substitute, he turned to fresh Hen of the Woods mushrooms from Kennett Square (the Mushroom Capital of the World, don’t you know). Mushrooms are often used in place of meat because of their earthy, rich flavor and toothsome, meaty texture. Hen of the Woods mushrooms, which grow in thick, curly clusters, are even more meaty than common grocery store varieties, and when cooked properly, make a fabulous substitute for animal protein. Chef Fidler mixes these into a creamy gravy (as opposed to the more traditional brown gravy) with plenty of herbs for freshness and flavor. The result is a gorgeous vegetarian “chicken” & waffles that we’ll be making again and again when we need a little extra comfort at breakfast or brunch.
Vegetarian ‘Chicken’ & Waffles
|Prep Time||Cook Time||Total Time|
|10 min||12 min||22 min|
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 4 cups Hen of the Woods mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1/4 cup PA hard cider
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the batter from your favorite waffle recipe.
- Melt butter in a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. When foamy, add in the mushrooms. Season to taste with salt.
- After the mushrooms have browned, add in the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened.
- Pour in the hard cider and sprinkle on the all-purpose flour. Stir, until the cider and flour dissolve.
- Add the heavy cream, and bring to a gentle boil. Then, add the milk. Stir well to combine.
- Keeping the mix at a gentle boil, season generously with salt and pepper, then add the fresh herbs.
- Reduce until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Lower the heat, and begin cooking your waffles in a waffle iron. Add some fresh herbs to the batter, if you wish.
- When each waffle is done, set it on a plate and smother with your Hen of the Woods gravy. Garnish with a few fresh sage leaves.
- Photo and recipes: Dish Works