Our version: Savory with spinach, scallions, jalapeños, and cumin seasoning the waffle. See you for brunch.
PHOTO: Our version: Savory with spinach, scallions, jalapeños, and cumin seasoning the waffle. See you for brunch.

Brunch Classic? Waffles and Fried Chicken

Brunch is back at Shepard! After taking the summer off, we've re-opened for brunch and dinner on Sundays, and have launched a new brunch menu. While most of the menu is updated, we brought back the favorite from our previous brunch menu, the Green Waffle. It is served with whipped espelette-honey butter, poached egg, and fried chicken (if you like).

Nowadays, we see fried chicken and waffles as a classic pairing. There are countless restaurants devoted to the concept, and several Boston-area restaurants offer their own versions, tailored to their cuisine. Online review sites offer their lists of the "15 Best Spots for Chicken + Waffles." But it isn't an obvious food pairing, so we wondered where fried chicken and waffles got its start.

Many people we asked, and several sources first suggested that it is a southern soul food dish. Fried chicken certainly has a southern cultural element (thanks in part to that white-suited Colonel). But early southern US cookbooks don't mention the pairing, and the dish started showing up in other parts of the US first. By the mid-nineteenth century, the dish was famous in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, usually as braised or stewed chicken over waffles. Over the next 100 years, the chicken was fried, and restaurants in Chicago and Los Angeles sold the dish as a Southern specialty, falsely giving the combo its reputation as Southern meal.

So why chicken and waffles?

It is an incredibly satisfying combination of sweet, buttery, crispy waffles, with salty, savory, fatty, fried chicken. (There are some scientific studies that suggest that we enjoy eating foods with a satisfying "crunch." Which is why everyone loves eating a whole bag of potato chips...). We particularly love our version: The waffle is savory with spinach, scallions, jalapeños, and cumin seasoning the waffle. The chicken is seasoned with paprika, dried oregano, salt, pepper, and soaked in our house-made buttermilk. The spicy espelette-honey butter adds the needed sweetness and heat. And the a poached egg on top is the best way to complete the picture.

Of course, if you don't believe me, come try it out. See you for brunch.

Brunch is served every Sunday 11am - 2:30pm. We offer the bar menu 2:30pm-5:30pm and dinner menu 5:30pm-8pm on Sundays as well. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

PHOTO: Our version: Savory with spinach, scallions, jalapeños, and cumin seasoning the waffle. See you for brunch.