Recipe: Pancetta pecan waffles, maple blueberry syrup and buttermilk fried chicken tenders by Cynthia Ferris-Bennett

Pancetta pecan waffles, maple blueberry syrup and buttermilk fried chicken tenders by Cynthia Ferris-Bennett.

Pancetta pecan waffles, maple blueberry syrup and buttermilk fried chicken tenders by Cynthia Ferris-Bennett.

One of our most popular classes at the Sierra Chef Culinary Center is “Brunch is Back!” Brunch is truly a lost art in the world of home entertaining that’s making a strong comeback. One of our favorites is pancetta pecan Belgian waffles and buttermilk fried chicken tenders with warm maple blueberry syrup. This is a recipe the entire family will enjoy both preparing and eating.

Be sure you’re using a Belgian waffle machine and not a standard waffle machine. The Belgian waffle machine will make those perfect, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside little squares of pure waffle heaven.

Pair the pancetta pecan waffles, warm maple blueberry syrup and buttermilk fried chicken tenders with your favorite brunch libation ... may I suggest a proper Bloody Mary bar ... and you have a brunch to remember!

Pancetta Pecan Waffles


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 beaten egg yolks

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 stiff beaten egg whites

1 cup pancetta (cooked and crumbled)

1/2 cup chopped pecans


Stir dry ingredients. Combine egg yolks, milk and vegetable oil; stir into dry ingredients, pancetta and pecans. Fold in egg whites. Pour one-eighth of the batter into the waffle iron. Bake until steam no longer appears or waffle maker indicates waffles are done. Don’t raise the cover during baking.

Maple Blueberry Syrup


1 cup real maple syrup (Don’t use fake maple syrup!)

1 cup blueberry preserves

1/2 cup fresh blueberries


Heat maple syrup in microwave for one minute, stir in blueberry preserves and cook another minute. Remove from microwave; add fresh blueberries ... serve immediately.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

For the marinade:

2 pounds chicken tenderloins

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

For the breading:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 heaping teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons buttermilk

For cooking:

3-4 cups vegetable oil


Combine the chicken tenders with all of the marinade ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Seal the bag tightly and squish it around to ensure the chicken tenders are evenly coated with buttermilk and seasoning. Place in a bowl (in case of leakage) and refrigerate overnight, or at least four hours.

Make the breading by combining the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined, then add the buttermilk and stir with a fork until mixture is evenly clumpy.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade a few at a time and toss into the flour mixture. Be sure to press the chicken firmly into the breading so clumps adhere to the meat. (It’s best to use one hand to remove the tenders from the bag and the other to toss in the breading). Set the breaded tenders on a prepared baking sheet.

Line another baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels and set aside. Add oil to a large, high-sided pot until the level reaches about three-fourths of an inch. Heat over high heat until oil is shimmering. (If a cube of bread sizzles when you drop it in, it’s ready). Using tongs, place several chicken tenders into the hot oil without crowding the pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom side, a few minutes, then flip and cook until second side is also golden, a few minutes more. Set cooked tenders on the baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Fry remaining tenders in batches. Serve hot.

Cynthia Ferris-Bennett is the owner of Sierra Chef Culinary Center in Genoa, which specializes in cooking classes, gourmet culinary pantry and Italian desserts and pastries. She manages the Sierra Chef Farmers Market at Lampe Park on Wednesdays and the Sierra Chef Farmers Market at Genoa Town Park on Saturdays from May-September. She is also the event manager for East Fork Ranch where Sierra Chef hosts monthly Barn Club Dinners. For information, go to


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