The recipe was shared with us by chef John Johnson, from the Four Season's New York's Garden Restaurant. His uncle Leo, from North Carolina, would take John camping when he was a boy during the summer, and at least once during the trip Uncle Leo would fry up a large batch of chicken, and would serve it with a sweet syrup, hot sauce, and a squeeze of fresh lemon based dipping sauce. Chef Johnson dug into his nostalgic past and decided to take his Uncle Leo's idea and place it on The Garden menu.
For plating: Cut the waffle into equal triangles, and layer on a long plate. Arrange the fried chicken on top of each piece. Generously drizzle the maple lemon sauce all over. Then sprinkle the chopped candied bacon all over. Garnish with a pinch of Espelette pepper.
Preheat an oven to 320 degrees. Arrange bacon on a baking pan. Cook until crispy. Drain, and place on a dry pan. Dust generously with the maple sugar. Return to the oven for just a minute or 2 to melt the sugar. Allow to cool fully, and then chop into small bits.
In a small sauce pot over medium heat, bring to a boil the maple syrup, lower heat, and reduce by half its original volume. Add in the lemon juice, and then, whisk in the soft butter until a "beurre blanc" consistency. Reserve in a warm place until ready to serve.
In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand beater, beat eggs until light and fluffy. Next add in the flour, oil, sugar, salt, baking powder, and the scraped vanilla bean seeds. Mix to combine and until it just comes together smoothly. Do not overmix.
Preheat a waffle iron. Spray lightly with a touch of cooking spray. Pour enough mix to make 1 waffle. Cook until golden brown, and crisp. Reserve for plating.
Cut the thighs into the even pieces mentioned above. Next combine the buttermilk and garlic powder. Submerge the cut chicken thighs, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Preheat a Frialtor or countertop fryer, filled properly with pure canola oil, to 300 degrees.
Next, combine the flour, and remaining spices, except the salt, in a large bowl. Carefully remove, and lightly drain the chicken pieces, and add them 1 by 1 to the flour. Coat evenly, then carefully fry each piece individually roughly 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and fully cooked in the center.
When fully cooked, transfer to a sheet pan with towel to drain, and reserve hot for serving.