Welcome to Hibernation Holiday, The Takeout’s guide to celebrating Thanksgiving in the comfort of your own home—and in your sweatpants.
The Pennsylvania Dutch have been serving chicken and waffles since the 1600s, making it one of the oldest dishes in the American culinary canon. Their version doesn’t involve deep-frying chicken, but rather simmering it with herbs and vegetables until it’s fall-apart tender, then piling it on top of crispy waffles with rich, creamy gravy. I’d never even heard of this version until a few years ago on a road trip to Lancaster County. How it’s managed to remain a relatively unknown regional special, I’ll never understand, because hot damn is this version delicious. It’s comfort food on top of comfort food, and it sticks to your ribs like a warm hug. This year Thanksgiving demands we stay cozy at home, and this is a dish designed for maximum coziness.
The Thanksgiving-ification of this dish began, quite obviously, by swapping the chicken for turkey, and by throwing some dried cranberries into the gravy. I very much enjoy cranberries, so I added them with a heavy hand, but you can use any amount of cranberries you wish. Instead of traditional waffles I made mine out of potatoes, because I’m a sucker for gravy and potatoes; by using instant potatoes—which are nothing more than dehydrated potato flakes—the waffles came out light, fluffy, and not the least bit gluey. I also added chunks of brie, because a special occasion deserves fancy waffles. You can use whatever cheese you’d like, or leave it out entirely.
- 1 split turkey breast (around 3-4 lbs.)
- 3 medium carrots, unpeeled and roughly chopped
- 4 large stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 2 medium yellow onions, unpeeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 bulb garlic, crushed with skins on
- 1/4 cup roasted chicken bouillon paste (like College Inn or Better Than Bouillon)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 4 bay leaves
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
- 1-2 cups dried cranberries
- 2 cups instant mashed potatoes
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 4 eggs
- 6 Tbsp. melted butter
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2/3 cup flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 8 oz. Brie or camembert, frozen
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (your choice, though I like using chives)
Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with cooking oil and set over high heat. Pull the skin off the turkey and add it to the pan, then cook for 3-5 minutes until brown. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and continue to cook for several minutes until they begin to brown, then stir in the chicken paste and wine. Put the turkey into the pot and add enough water to cover by at least 2 inches, then add the herbs. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for at least 1 hour, until the turkey easily flakes with a fork.
Remove the turkey to a plate and set aside. Strain the broth into a bowl, pressing down on the solids with the back of a ladle to extract all their flavor. Discard the solids, then let the stock sit for several minutes so that the fat rises to the top. (You can speed this up by popping it into the fridge or freezer for a bit.)
Skim the fat with the ladle and put it into the Dutch oven with the butter, then cook on high heat until the butter is melted. Whisk in the flour to make a roux, whisk the stock back into the pot a few cups at a time and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Stir in the heavy cream at this point, if using. Add as many cranberries as you’d like. Use your hands to shred the turkey into bite-sized pieces, then stir the turkey into the gravy and cover to keep warm.
In a large bowl, whisk the instant mashed potato flakes and milk together and let sit for at least 3 minutes. Whisk in the eggs, melted butter, and salt; once smooth, add the flour and baking powder. Take the cheese out of the freezer (chilling it makes it easier to work with), slice off the rind, then roughly shred on a lightly greased box grater. Stir the cheese and herbs into the waffle batter.
Preheat your waffle iron. Grease with cooking spray or a bit of melted butter, add a few scoops of potato batter, then cook as instructed by your waffle iron’s manufacturer.
Serve the stewed turkey on top of piping hot waffles garnished with chopped chives.