Beer Can Chicken and Hush Puppy Waffles

Beer can chicken always seemed like a gimmick to me. For years I've listened as my friends' husbands heralded the fad, and for years I've snubbed my nose at their enthusiasm. Then this weekend T rummaged through some storage spaces and found some random unused wedding presents (wasting away in storage for more than a dozen years), including a beer can chicken roasting tray (and thus the question "What do you buy the couple who has everything?" was thoroughly answered).

An online search came up with dozens of recipes for brining and dry rubs, advice for what kind of beer to use, and plenty of articles telling me why beer can chicken is a waste of good beer. I decided to dump our bird in a strange brew of pickle juice, beer, and buttermilk. After a quick 4-hour brine I air-dried the bird for a few more hours in the fridge, then added a dry rub before shoving a can of beer up the chicken's ample rump. The chicken grilled itself and it was up to me to come up with some sides.

When I was a kid my Grandpa Johnson loved taking me to eat at Red Lobster. I filled up on steamed lobster and fried hush puppies dipped in melted butter while Grandpa gorged on endless orders of popcorn shrimp (or shrimps as he called them). I never forgave Red Lobster for replacing hush puppies with cheddar biscuits. After Grandpa passed away I never returned to the RL, thus paving the way for my burgeoning food snobbery and hush puppy experiments in my kitchen. Hush puppies seemed the perfect companion for my beer drinking chicken, but I wasn't in the mood for fried food. Instead, I ladled hush puppy batter into a waffle iron and the results were pretty nice. A Maple Currant Hot Sauce sort of tied the meal together.

Hush Puppy Waffles with Maple Currant Hot Sauce
Makes 5 waffles

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch cayenne
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more for waffle griddle)

Combine eggs and buttermilk; set aside. In large mixing bowl combine cheese, corn, flour, sugar, baking powder, onion powder, salt, baking soda, and cayenne. Whisk in egg-buttermilk until just combined. Stir in melted butter.

Ladle batter into hot waffle iron that is brushed with butter. Cook according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve hot with butter and Maple Currant Hot Sauce.

Maple Currant Hot Sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups fresh currants
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup of your favorite hot sauce
3 tablespoons cold butter

In saucepan bring currants and syrup to simmer and reduce to 1 1/4 cups (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in hot sauce and butter.



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