Oh what a “Melty Fest” Night! I had so much fun last night at the festive Tillamook event at Sweet Auburn Barbecue to celebrate Tillamook’s availability in the Atlanta area! Their naturally aged cheddars + premium ice cream are now available all over the ATL – how lucky for us! 

The preview Melty Fest Event last night featured A-MAZING dishes prepared by Anita + Howard Hsu, two of our very talented local chefs + owners of Sweet Auburn Barbecue. I ate about a dozen of their infamous Pimento Cheese Wontons (made with Tillamook Sharp Cheddar) which are beyond decadent + delicious! And, I even got to participate in a wonton making class!

Also featured on last night’s Melty Fest menu was Sweet Auburn Barbecue’s Tillamook Cheddar Grits. Y’all know I love some grits + these cheddar grits (made with Tillamook Medium Cheddar) were so rich + so creamy. Absolutely delicious!

Their recipe inspired me to get a bit creative in my kitchen so I decided to create an original Community Kitchen recipe for a quintessential southern speciality – Chicken + Waffles! 

My Hot Honey Chicken + Cheddar Grits Waffles make for one outstanding meal. My recipe features “oven fried” chicken that has been marinated overnight in whole cultured buttermilk then coated in Panko breadcrumbs + brown rice flour. This combination results in “oven fried” chicken that is moist on the inside + crunchy on the outside. And, a generous drizzle of hot honey sauce takes this chicken dinner to a whole new level.

I originally contemplated pairing my hot honey chicken with cheddar grit cakes, which I think would have been perfectly delicious. But, we love waffles in this house so I settled on creating a waffle recipe that was hearty + savory + flavorful.

I first cook the grits until they are tender then add them to a more traditional waffle batter. Last, I add a very generous amount of Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut Sharp Cheddar Cheese shreds. The texture + consistency of your batter will be thick + lumpy. 

Cook your waffles until they are crisp + fluffy + the cheddar oozes out just a bit. Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut Sharp Cheddar Cheese shreds help create the most flavorful waffle batter + the meltiest, most savory waffles to pair with the hot honey chicken. The sweet spiciness of the hot honey pairs SO perfectly with the savory + slightly salty waffles. Grab your Tillamook cheddar + make this delicious dish today!

Hot Honey Chicken + Tillamook Cheddar Grits Waffles

For the chicken:

4 boneless + skinless chicken breasts, halved

salt + freshly ground pepper

2 C whole cultured buttermilk

2 C Panko bread crumbs

1 C brown rice flour

1/4 C olive oil

For the hot honey:

1 stick cultured butter

1/3 C honey

1 t cayenne pepper

1 t chili powder

1 t smoked paprika

Add the chicken breasts to a shallow dish. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the buttermilk and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I usually marinate my chicken overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degree. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Combine the bread crumbs and brown rice flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken pieces through the mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the chicken pieces with a generous amount of olive oil. 

Bake for 15 minutes then turn the chicken over and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked. 

Prepare the hot honey while the chicken is baking by placing all ingredients in a small saucepan and whisking until the butter is completely melted and the hot honey is smooth.

For the cheddar waffles:

1/2 C white corn grits

1 1/2 C self-rising flour

1 t lemon pepper

dash of sea salt

1 C cultured whole buttermilk

2 T vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 C Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut Sharp Cheddar Cheese shreds

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Prepare the waffles while the chicken is baking. In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring 1 C of water to boil. Add the grits and stir to combine. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Combine the flour, lemon pepper and sea salt in a large bowl.

Add the grits, buttermilk, oil, eggs and shredded cheese. Mix until smooth.

Preheat the waffle maker. Cook 1/4 C batter until golden brown and crisp. Repeat with remaining batter.

Top waffles with chicken, drizzle with hot honey sauce, sprinkle with green onions. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

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