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  • Taryn Varricchio: Chicken marinated

  • in a secret blend of spices.

  • Flour coated into every crease and flap

  • of each breast and wing,

  • dropped in oil and fried

  • until all of the skin is perfectly crisp.

  • Sweet waffle batter whisked until smooth and creamy,

  • cooked to a golden brown color,

  • remaining soft to the touch.

  • It's the subtle sweetness of the waffle

  • and the secret marinade of this savory chicken

  • that makes Amy Ruth's chicken and waffles

  • a legend in New York.

  • Fried chicken and waffles first appeared on menus

  • at Wells Supper Club in Harlem

  • back in the 1930s.

  • Although that restaurant has since closed,

  • the dish never lost its hook on the people here.

  • And much of that is thanks to Amy Ruth's popularity.

  • Customer: A lot of my friends, they go to Atlanta,

  • and they're like, "Oh, where's the chicken and waffles?"

  • I'm like, "That's not a staple in the South.

  • It's from Harlem."

  • Like, if they're coming to Harlem,

  • Amy Ruth's is always the place to come for that.

  • Taryn: The chicken at Amy Ruth's starts

  • with a secret blend of spices.

  • Jannette Robinson: What we do is, in order to ensure

  • that the chicken is flavorful

  • and the season get time to evaporate to the bone,

  • we preseason the chicken

  • 24 hours in advance.

  • It's like a rub.

  • Taryn: Then Sister Jannette dredges the chicken in flour,

  • making sure to cover each breast

  • and the corners of the wings evenly.

  • This ensures every bit gets crispy

  • when it heads to the fryer.

  • The chicken usually fries for about 12 minutes,

  • but the cooks will know it's done

  • when it floats all the way to the top.

  • As for the signature sweet half of this dish,

  • there's Amy Ruth's golden brown waffle.

  • Jannette: The key to the waffle is,

  • so it won't fill you up with gas,

  • is to make it at least 24 hours in advance

  • and let it expand

  • in a 5-gallon container we put it in.

  • Taryn: Is this sort of like when they

  • tell you with pancake batter

  • to let it sit before you make pancakes?

  • Jannette: Yeah, same results.

  • It tastes better,

  • and it's better on your digestive system.

  • It's not struggling to digest,

  • 'cause there's no gas in it.

  • Taryn: Typically, they make the batter

  • in 60-pound batches in a 5-gallon bucket,

  • but Sister Jannette agreed to show us herself by hand.

  • Jannette: We have never made the waffle mix for anyone.

  • You guys are -- what's today's date?

  • Taryn: [laughs] The 19th.

  • Jannette: This is your lucky day.

  • This is your lucky day, 2020.

  • Taryn: Like any typical batter,

  • there's vanilla, cinnamon,

  • brown sugar, flour,

  • and something special she wouldn't share.

  • Jannette: How you cook is the key.

  • Taryn: Yeah.

  • Jannette: You got to cook with love.

  • You got to time each ingredient that you put in,

  • because you want it to have a desired fluffiness.

  • Taryn: She whisks it until all the clumps are gone

  • and the batter is totally smooth.

  • Jannette: See how it's expanding?

  • Taryn: Yeah, yeah.

  • After it sits, it's ready for the iron,

  • where each scoop of batter cooks

  • for about three minutes,

  • until the waffle is soft with a golden brown color.

  • Dubbed the Rev. Al Sharpton on the menu,

  • this plate is one of several tributes

  • to famous Black figures you'll find at Amy Ruth's.

  • And orders for that dish

  • come through in the hundreds each week.

  • Taryn: 2,000 a week pre-COVID,

  • 500 currently. That's still a lot!

  • Jannette: Yeah, still a lot.

  • Customer: The way that they season

  • and batter their food

  • is light enough that it's not too salty,

  • but enough to give you flavor.

  • There's a right amount of crunch,

  • there's a right amount of crisp.

  • You know, you're not disappointed

  • when you want something crunchy.

  • They even give you the condiments,

  • but you don't even really have to use them,

  • because the food is so delicious

  • that you don't want to mess with it.

  • Taryn: In 2017, The Daily Meal

  • recognized the restaurant for serving

  • the second-best chicken and waffles in the country.

  • Jannette: Sometimes when I look out the little cubbyhole

  • and look at the people when they receive their food,

  • it's like they're in love.

  • Not like it's a person,

  • but it's something that make them happy

  • and give them joy.

  • I guess they could say,

  • "Let me go to Amy Ruth's and get those chicken and waffles."

  • The enthusiasm makes me,

  • makes me want to give more.

  • It makes me want to do more.

  • It makes me want to try and make everything perfect.

  • You know?

  • Customer: It takes you home, you know what I mean?

  • Like, you feel the love, you feel everything in it.

  • It's not a miss. It's always a hit.

  • Taryn: Like the names on the menu,

  • the tributes continue with paintings

  • of prominent Black figures on the restaurant's walls.

  • And if you look close enough,

  • you'll find Sister Jannette up there with them,

  • the soul behind the soul-food restaurant.

  • Jannette: I can't be anything else but fun

  • and kind and sweet and loving and caring.

  • I grew up in the South on a farm.

  • On a farm!

  • Rough life. But a good life.

  • And I grew up with 13 brothers and sisters.

  • Taryn: Wow.

  • Jannette: And I am the seventh.

  • And my mother says I was the most strangest one.

  • I don't know.

  • Taryn: Your mom's what?

  • Jannette: Strangest one out of all the children.

  • I said, "I think you mean to say unique," when I was little.

  • She was like, "What do you know about unique?"

  • I said, "That's me."

  • Taryn: Yeah!

  • Jannette: I mean, I've always been like this.

  • I don't know why.

  • Taryn: It is so crispy.

  • It's like the flakes are flying off as I'm cutting in.

  • Producer: That sound is amazing.

  • Taryn: The sound is amazing!

  • It just makes you want to eat it.

  • That is super different.

  • That is not a typical waffle.

  • I think there's, like, a corn base

  • in this waffle in some way.

  • I don't -- that is not confirmed.

  • I'm totally just guessing.

  • But there's a sweet corn flavor.

  • Jannette: You can't just make it plain.

  • Taryn: OK.

  • Jannette: It'd be like everybody else's.

  • Taryn: Right!

  • Like, I forgot I was eating a waffle for a second

  • because I thought there was corn bread in my mouth,

  • which sounds strange.

  • But, like, I got transported to a different food

  • that I've experienced.

  • And I think that's because the flavors mimic that.

  • Customer: I love the crispiness of the waffle,

  • and then inside it's just so soft and, like, decadent.

  • Like, it's amazing.

  • And then you put the syrup and butter, and it's like,

  • oh, my gosh, takes it to a whole new level.

  • The chicken is crispy,

  • then you got the tender meat inside.

  • Oh, my gosh, so good.

  • Taryn: This is great.

  • Like, I just want to just keep...

  • normally I don't take this many bites.

  • I'm in it.

  • I want -- the skin is addicting.

  • Like, you taste the crunchy, salty,

  • crisp skin in your mouth.

  • And you're like, "OK, let's just have more of that."

  • Great dish overall.

  • Like, I want to go back in the kitchen,

  • talk to Sister Jannette, try to coerce her

  • to tell me what she put in the waffle batter

  • so I can make it at home.

  • 'Cause, like, that's how much I'm enjoying

  • this waffle more than other waffles I've had.

  • Customer: With all of the iconic cuisines

  • that we have in this city,

  • it's nice that this type of cuisine is represented.

  • And then people can come to the place where

  • the people are cooking it and enjoy it in its home.

Taryn Varricchio: Chicken marinated

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Amy Ruth's Mastered Chicken And Waffles In Harlem | Legendary Eats

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/18
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