Chicken and Tot-waffles

For the chicken:
8 chicken tenders
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 garlic cloves, grated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 large eggs

For the waffles and syrup:
About 4 pounds frozen tots (amount will vary depending on the size of your waffle iron)
Butter or nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the waffle iron.
3/4 cups pure maple syrup
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup hot sauce

Make the chicken: Place the chicken in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk, hot sauce, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir to combine and coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

Pour oil to a depth of 4 inches into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry or candy thermometer inserted into the oil reaches 375 degrees. While the oil heats, set up the breading station: Combine the flour, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the eggs and season with salt and pepper; pour the eggs into another wide, shallow bowl and set it beside the flour mixture.

Remove a piece of chicken from the marinade, letting any excess marinade drip back into the bowl, and dredge it in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess, then dip the chicken into the egg wash to coat. Finally, dredge the chicken through the flour again to fully coat it and place it on a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees or the lowest temperature. Working in two batches, fry the chicken in the oil until golden brown and crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to a cooling rack (or paper towel–lined plate) to drain. Then keep warm on a baking sheet in the oven.

Make the waffles: Put half of the tots on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high until defrosted (they should be room temperature or warmer), about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining tots. (The defrosted tots will be fragile, so handle them carefully.)

Preheat waffle iron and grease it with butter or cooking spray. Fill the bottom half of the waffle iron with tots. Really fill it: about 25 tots per 5-inch waffle. (Pack in more tots than you think will fit because that helps them stick together and form one big waffle-tot.) Close the waffle iron and cook until the tots are melded and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes. Place the cooked waffle on a plate and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining tots for a total of 8 to 10 waffles.

Make the spicy syrup: Stir together the maple syrup, ketchup and hot sauce in a measuring cup. Divide the tot-waffles among four plates, stacking them on top of each other, and top each stack with 2 chicken tenders. Pour the spicy syrup evenly over the chicken and waffles. Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Dan Whalen’s Tots! 50 Tot-ally Awesome Recipes from Totchos to Sweet Po-tot-o Pie cookbook.