4 global twists on flavorful chicken

Chicken Satay
iStock

From Pierce Chicken.

When someone repeats the oft-uttered phrase, “It tastes like chicken,” there’s a risk that they mean it’s bland, boring or lackluster. Given that 91% of consumers, however, report eating chicken at least once a week, according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Poultry report, it’s clear that chicken is still a hot commodity.

Therefore, there’s no reason that a poultry entree should be considered the less-exciting protein option, particularly with the current uptick in interest in global flavors. According to the Poultry report, nearly half of consumers say that they think restaurants and other foodservice locations should offer more chicken options that feature ethnic ingredients or flavors, so take the chance and try out one of the myriad global options that not only star poultry, but also make the bird shine.

Asian flavors

Curry and peanut are two of the fastest-growing flavors for chicken dishes in noncommercial segments, growing 14.8% and 30.8% year-over-year, respectively, according to MenuMonitor. Thai cuisine features both trending flavors—chicken satay with peanut sauce and chicken coconut curries are both prevalent on menus.

Satay actually originated in Indonesia, but it’s familiar dish in a number of Southeast Asian cuisines, including Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean. The spice level in these dishes can easily be adjusted with the addition of Sriracha, another one of the fast-growing flavors in foodservice.

Middle Eastern options

While Middle Eastern cuisine might be known best for some of its vegetarian options, the flavors of cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon sticks and bay leaf can be used with chicken and rice, a favorite from the region that’s served over basmati rice. The National Restaurant Association lists Middle Eastern flavors as No. 38 on its top trends for 2018, meaning customers are pining for this flavor profile more and more.

European tastes

Across Western Europe, chicken is used in a plethora of tasty applications. In Spain, for example, chicken is often in included in mixed paella along with seafood. While the key ingredient for paella is saffron, the pricey but prized spice, the dish also relies heavily on garlic and onions.

A little farther north, France’s signature dish, coq au vin, melds chicken with red wine—usually Burgundy—button mushrooms, bacon and herbs, such as thyme, parsley and bay leaf. A small twist on this dish, coq au riesling, uses white wine and adds heavy cream at the end.

From the Americas

South of the United States lies a wealth of flavors that will call to customers. Guacamole is another ingredient that tops trending flavors, according to MenuMonitor, and it can be a deserving addition to chicken tinga tacos. These shredded chicken tacos are made with fire-roasted tomatoes, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, lots of garlic and a topping of cotija cheese.

Over in Cuba, fricase de pollo (Cuban-style chicken stew) draws flavor from alcaparrado, a mix of pimento-stuffed olives and capers, as well as a hint of sweetness from raisins. Additionally, Cuban-style arroz con pollo differs from the chicken-and-rice that you might see in Middle Eastern cuisine. Instead, the dish is flavored with spices such as oregano, cumin and annatto powder (an uncommon seasoning/herb, which the National Restaurant Association listed as a top 10 trend for 2018), as well as tomato sauce and peas.

Because consumers love both chicken and bold flavors, the time is right for operators to spread their wings with flavors in chicken dishes. Draw inspiration from around the world to keep diners interested in this popular protein.

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