Move over, pork and beef. Inflation has elevated chicken to the world’s biggest source of protein. Chicken consumption is growing three times as much as pork consumption and ten times as much as beef consumption, according to recent government reports. Its lower costs as compared to other animal proteins, as well as its appeal to flexitarians and across menu sections, make chicken an easy choice. Instead of making it the main attraction in your menu items in these plant-forward times, use it to elevate (or to help guests customize) a salad, stir-fry or pasta dish.
If you have chicken on your menu, you’ve no doubt become familiar with managing shortages and trying to find suitable substitutes. While it could still be some time before operators can comfortably offer chicken wings, incorporating other parts of the chicken onto the menu can help satisfy guests’ craving for chicken in the meantime. Thighs, for example, are expected to be available in greater supply (and at lower cost) early this year, so consider slicing them up to boost the protein content of wraps, salads and pasta dishes this season.
Chicken is always popular, but chicken consumption has really taken off during the pandemic. It ticks a lot of boxes for consumers: It’s functional, nourishing, nostalgic and customizable in so many ways. It’s a workhorse for restaurants too, since it can be prepared in so many ways and easily elevates dishes that have a broad range of international flavors. Guests are eager to have restaurant experiences right now. How can you take the existing chicken on your menu and offer something a little bit different from what a guest might prepare at home?
Using a range of global seasonings on your menu can provide a couple of important benefits: It can help you reinvent a protein or an entire dish while keeping your inventory simple – and in doing so, it can add the kind of variety and frequent change to your menu that will keep guests interested. Take one of the proteins or starches you have as an inventory staple and consider how you might transform it in multiple ways with the help of global flavors. Your menu can act as a passport – the only one your guests are likely to be using right now.
At a time when restaurant operators are trying to simplify their menus, every ingredient in a restaurant kitchen’s inventory needs to work hard. Chicken is one such workhorse because it enhances options in just about every section of your menu. At the same time, the experience of eating chicken in different dishes is just about as varied as it gets, thanks to the wide range of ways it can be prepared and served. It’s a children’s menu staple that is just as foundational to your salad menu. Fry it and serve it with dipping sauces as a comforting appetizer, shred it into hearty soups or sandwiches, or roast it and serve it with steamed seasonal vegetables as a lighter option.