Waffles with Friends
by Kristi Coleman
As soon as the temperature begins to dip at the end of another long Texas summer, my kids begin to clamor for cornbread waffles. When I pull out the recipe for Creamy Poblano Chicken and Cornbread Waffles, you know that fall has begun in the Coleman household.
This recipe makes heaps of waffles, providing the perfect excuse to invite friends over for dinner. The waffles must be crisp, which means you must wait until the guests arrive to start the messy process. Gathering around the waffle iron, waiting for the waffles to come out golden brown with just the right amount of crunch… the communal anticipation is a delicious way to start a party.
The creamy part involves overflowing bowls of calorie-laden cream of chicken soup, butter, and cheese. There’s some chicken and poblano peppers stirred in, but the creaminess is the real center of attention: comfort food at its finest.
Somehow the combination of the start of autumn, friends in flannel around a table, and Southern cornbread waffles smothered in a cheesy sauce never fails to produce a night of hearty laughter.
What my guests don’t know is that this recipe also touches their host on a much deeper level. My vivacious friend, Laura, passed it on to me. She discovered the recipe in her early 20s and had tripled the measurements for a large group. (Yes, she was already hosting dinner parties when most people were still mastering Minute Rice.)
Somehow through the years, the recipe had gone missing. Knowing the recipe was from Southern Living, and remembering the approximate years she found it, Laura and her husband trekked to the downtown Dallas Public Library and flipped through years of back issues. After scouring old magazines on the floor of the library, they finally found their prize. This image of their quest makes the recipe mean so much more to me.
I, too, found my prize when I found Laura as a friend. Even though I am ten years older than Laura, she has been my go-to friend for all kinds of advice: what to wear to a fancy event, what color to paint my walls, what to serve at a party, how to face my fear of flying, how to handle a touchy situation I had botched up with a friend…
One morning our pediatrician told me our two-year-old son, Ben, needed to see a specialist to rule out cancer. I made it to my car and called Laura as soon as I sank down into my seat. She immediately prayed with me over the phone. Ben didn’t have cancer, thankfully, but I will always remember the comfort Laura gave me in that parking lot.
About ten years later, Laura’s doctor told her she might have cancer, and she did: stage four breast cancer. Our community was rocked by this sad diagnosis because we all felt like Laura was our close friend: fun, wise, and comforting.
For the next three years, Laura put every ounce of energy she had left into enjoying life– still hosting parties and preparing great recipes — when she was able. Early one summer morning, Laura slipped into heaven, her laughter and love of life gone from us. I still have the urge to call her for advice or tell her about a cool party idea I found on Pinterest. Even though I can’t call Laura anymore, I know I can still work at cultivating her knack for gathering friends around a table of warm comfort food in my own life.
Every time I make Creamy Poblano Chicken and Cornbread Waffles, I will be thankful I had Laura as my friend, and I will also smile as I imagine what kind of dinner party Laura must be throwing with her new friends in heaven.
Creamy Poblano Waffles and Cornbread Waffles
3 T butter
1 large onion, diced,
3 garlic cloves, minced,
2 poblano chiles, seeded & diced
6-8 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces,
1⁄2 t. salt,
1⁄2 t. pepper,
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted,
8 oz sour cream,
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1⁄2 cups cornmeal,
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour,
2 1⁄2 t. baking powder,
3⁄4 t. salt,
2 T sugar,
1 1⁄2 cups milk
1⁄4 cup melted butter,
1 1⁄2 cups frozen white shoepeg corn
Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, poblanos, & garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add chicken, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in soup and sour cream until smooth. Stir in cheese, cook & stir until melted and smooth. Serve over Cornbread Waffles.
To prepare waffles combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in egg, milk, and melted butter, stirring just until just moistened. Batter will be somewhat lumpy. Bake batter in a lightly buttered, preheated waffle iron until golden brown & crispy.
This post was written by Jesse Conrad