Ideation

Chefs flock to chicken, turkey and other birds for inventive, crowd-pleasing dishes.

Oven Roasted Chicken with barley, napa cabbage, curry-mustard jus roti

At Sola in Chicago, chef-owner Carol Wallack cooks contemporary American cuisine with Asian and Hawaiian accents. Here, the former L.A. surfer gal brings Pacific Island flair to a crisp, golden chicken breast plated with a bold curry-mustard sauce. It goes for $16 on Sola’s casual dinner menu.

Chicken Paillard with truffle vinaigrette and shaved mushrooms

Outside Bottega’s front door in Birmingham, Alabama, edible flowers and herbs are ripe for the picking. “It doesn’t matter how simple the dish, if you use great, seasonal ingredients it’s a winner,” says chef-owner Frank Stitt. This entree, his most popular, is made with thinly pounded breast cutlets topped with arugula, Parmesan shavings and a light mushroom sauce.

Mandarin Minced Squab

Squab, a young pigeon, has been bred for centuries in China, but now is raised commercially in California. The meat is richer and moister than chicken but just as versatile. At the Mandarin Restaurant in San Francisco, the kitchen chops and marinates the boneless squab, then stir-fries and serves it Chinese-style in lettuce leaves sprinkled with crushed rice noodles.

Smoked Jerk Turkey Thighs with banana ketchup

Susan Goss, chef-partner in Chicago’s West Town Tavern, prefers turkey thigh meat for the way it stands up to assertive seasonings. Here, she brines the thighs, then smokes them over apple wood and finishes them off on the grill, brushed with a zesty homemade jerk sauce. The finishing touch—a sweet-hot condiment made with sautéed bananas, citrus juices and lots of spice.

Chicken with Almond-Pomegranate Sauce

Mediterranean is the focus at San Francisco’s Medjool restaurant and this “Medjool family recipe” is one of the menu’s signature tapas. Boneless chicken is dusted with distinctive seasonings, then napped with thick, almond-pomegranate sauce to create a rich, complex dish that embodies Mediterranean flavor.

Chicken Club Quesadilla

“We contract 8 million pounds of chicken a year,” says Daniel Barash, senior director of operations and development for the 350-unit Moe’s Southwest Grill. The white meat goes into the fast-casual concept’s fajitas, burritos, tacos, nachos and salads. One of the newest menu additions is the Chicken Club Quesadilla—a hearty combo of chicken, bacon, cheese, beans and tomatoes.


Tasting the future

Some of the poultry industry’s mega-producers point out the top trends that are driving product development.

Fresh and natural are in big demand. Poultry companies are responding to the health and wellness trend with all-natural products that are free of trans fats and lower in sodium. While several processors offer all-natural fresh, uncooked chicken, Tyson has just introduced a 100 percent natural line of marinated chicken. A combination of sea salt and proprietary flavoring technology makes the “all-natural” label possible, says Nanette Luningham, senior brand manager.

Recipe-ready products to save time and labor. Operators are looking for quick-to-prep items they can signaturize with their kitchen’s own seasonings and cooking techniques. Perdue’s Chef Redi Chicken Breast Filets are fresh products that are portioned for consistent size and shape to fit sandwiches, salads and tapas. The company’s TenderReady line in oven-roasted flavor is fresh, cooked chicken that goes from the walk-in to plate in minutes; it’s available in halves, quarters and boneless filets.

Guests want to explore and experiment. Products are being developed with more intense flavors, such as Perdue’s Salt & Vinegar Wings and Bourbon Peppercorn Turkey, Tyson’s Tequila Lime Glazed Wings and Pierce’s Chicken Filet-Vors in Salsa Mexicana, Spicy Asian, Mediterranean and Orange varieties. The latter come in three formats: raw marinated, par-fried and fully-cooked unbreaded filets. Consumers not only crave bolder flavors, they want the type of food that can be enjoyed in a “shared dining experience,” Perdue research has found.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
aquaponics produce

We partnered with a student group interested in aquaponics to build a recirculating fish tank and lettuce growing operation in our Oval Dining Center. The large tanks are stocked with tilapia that live in the water and fertilize lettuce growing in the recirculating water under grow lights. We then harvest the lettuce and use it in our operations. The unit is set up in the dining room where customers can see the science in action, learn about the process and enjoy the fresh lettuce that was just picked.

Ideas and Innovation
fridge system

We installed a remote refrigeration system as part of our cafeteria renovation. The main part of the system is located on the roof and controls all our refrigerated equipment, including the walk-in freezer and coolers, beverage refrigerator, etc. The system allows us to identify problems faster, and the elimination of individual condenser units cuts down on A/C bills as well as noise.

Industry News & Opinion

Students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will be served student-grown produce from the campus farm at dining halls this fall, M Live reports.

The dining team received its first batch of produce from UM’s on-campus farm in June, after students received the proper USDA certification to grow, harvest and deliver food to campus dining halls. In order to figure out what produce is needed, students communicate with the dining department weekly, and Michigan Dining purchases items accordingly.

"The students are involved from seed to plate," Executive Chef Frank Turchan...

Sponsored Content
college students eating

From Ovention.

Today’s colleges and universities know they should offer more than a large selection of breakfast cereals in the morning and chicken tenders at lunch to appeal to students. When it comes to what’s trending on campuses, here’s a look at what directors can tune into to boost engagement.

1. Expanded dining hours

Late-night options have long been a popular fixture on college campuses, but if it’s too late, students often choose to venture to off-campus retailers to satisfy their cravings. According to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend...

FSD Resources