Maybe you’ve decided to add chicken to your menu. Maybe you’re considering it. Regardless, you’re probably wondering: what’s the best way to source everything I need?
Sourcing your product means setting up the reliable supply of fresh or frozen chicken in whatever portion or serving you wish. It also includes everything that goes into your cooking equipment to make the best product come out: breadings, seasonings, marinades, smoke chips, even frying oil. Especially frying oil.
Let’s start there. Oil is typically either the first or second highest expense in high-volume commercial frying programs. And lately, prices have been going up. Stability, smoke point, flavor, and nutritional value are other important factors to consider when deciding on the type of frying oil to use.
Most high-volume chicken operations use canola oil, or a blended oil. Other popular choices are soybean and corn oil. All of these frying oils have smoke points of 400°F or higher and good stability. They are also widely available in 35 lb. containers, which are easy to store and handle, and are more competitively priced.
The poultry supply chain is well organized. There are 30 federally inspected, vertically integrated poultry production companies in the U.S. These companies work with about 25,000 family farms where 95 percent of all broiler chickens are raised, sixteen percent of which are exported around the world. Basically, you can get fresh chicken anywhere, any time. For these reasons and more, fresh poultry is best sourced locally and can be ordered in parts just like in the grocery store, or whole for a much lower price per pound and processed on site.
Frozen chicken is even more widely available. Dozens of popular bulk frozen wholesale chicken products are available from restaurant supply houses.
Wings and tenders are a low-priced, easy-to-cook finger food that can be served in a bunch of styles and flavors. They are insanely popular at sports bars and in TV rooms around the world at Super Bowl time. They are also (currently) in short supply, and prices continue to rise. But for every pair of wings on a chicken, there are a pair of thighs. They are actually tastier and just as easy to cook and handle as wings. And, at the moment, much cheaper.
Restaurants that serve a variety of chicken products typically work with both fresh and frozen. Frozen, for smaller items such as sides and appetizers—nuggets, fingers, boneless wings—and fresh for signature chicken breast sandwiches, eight-piece bone-in fried chicken and whole rotisserie birds.
Breadings, seasonings, marinades
Collectively, these are items that add all-important flavor to your chicken menu items. In fact, they essentially define them. Cajun wings, spicy chicken sandwich, extra crispy bone-in, hickory smoked half… you get the idea.
Breadings provide texture as well as flavor—soft crunchy, extra crispy, or tempura—to fried chicken, fish, seafood, and veggies.
Seasonings and cooking techniques determine the taste, texture and color of skin when cooking whole birds.
Marinades are an easy way to flavor up grilled or smoked boneless chicken fillets and thighs for slicing into salads or rice bowls.
The easy part is that no matter what you plan to serve, the exact breading mix or seasoning combo you envision already exists. Henny Penny offers a selection of breadings and seasonings that have proved to be the most popular among a wide range of high-volume chicken menus all over the world.
It is tempting to think of this component of your program as a commodity and shop for price only. But quality and consistency can vary considerably among manufacturers. It’s important to get the flavor just right. Major restaurant chains spend years developing their breading recipes—and then keep it a secret! Your customers will thank you by showing up and telling their friends.
There is a lot more to implementing a profitable chicken program than determining where all your product is coming from. As a foodservice operator, where do you begin?
Sourcing to Serving is a step-by-step planning guide from our chicken experts that will help you make key decisions about:
Menu and operations
Sourcing product and equipment
Installation, start-up, maintenance
After-sales service and support
Click here to download Sourcing to Serving for FREE and get 22 pages packed with everything you need to know about adding chicken to your menu.
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