Make the waffle batter: Dice 10 bacon slices; cook in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Add the remaining 6 bacon slices to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 9 to 11 minutes. Remove to the paper towels; reserve the drippings in the skillet.
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk the whole eggs, buttermilk and melted butter in a separate bowl, then whisk into the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the cooked diced bacon. Transfer 2 cups of the batter to a separate large bowl for the chicken; reserve the remaining batter for the waffles.
Make the chicken: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Add the peanut oil to the skillet with the reserved bacon drippings; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Add the thyme, paprika and cayenne to the 2 cups waffle batter; add up to 2 tablespoons buttermilk if the batter is too thick. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper, then toss with the flour. Add the chicken to the batter and set aside until ready to fry.
Set a rack on a baking sheet. Working in batches, remove the chicken from the batter, letting the excess drip off, then fry until golden brown, 2 minutes per side; transfer to the rack and season with salt. Transfer to the oven and bake until no longer pink in the middle, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the waffles: Spray a waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat. Whisk the egg white in a bowl until soft peaks form; fold into the reserved waffle batter. Ladle 1/2 to 1 cup batter into the waffle iron for each waffle and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve with the fried chicken, bacon slices and maple syrup.
Photograph by Con Poulos
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine
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