As more consumers look to grocery store prepared foods departments for meal solutions, the always popular fried chicken is gaining even more attention.
Broaster Company provides fried chicken to grocery store delis all across the country.
Some choose to use the company’s brand, others choose to use Broaster’s pressure fryers and its proprietary marinades and coatings to market product under their own private label brands, said Katie Klaus, Broaster’s senior marketing manager.
“Grocery stores are seeking out durable equipment that’s easy to use,” she said. “With today’s labor struggles, delis need back-of-house equipment that’s safe and easy to use.”
Broaster’s newest pressure fryer line, The E-Series, has many automated features to ensure the highest quality fried chicken, Klaus said.
Auto oil filtering between cook cycles, automatic pressure release and a SmartTouch touch screen controller all make back of house operations easier than ever.
Broaster’s ES-24 model can cook up to eight heads (or 64 pieces) of fresh bone-in chicken per load. It also features auto-lift, so cooks don’t have to lift heavy baskets.
Broaster Company has been manufacturing pressure fryers since 1954, Klaus said.
“Bone-in 8-piece cut fried chicken has been around for a long time. We have lifelong fans that seek Genuine Broaster Chicken out as part of their weekly dinner menu.”
Over the years, the company has seen the boneless program growing in popularity, particularly among younger people.
Today, Klaus said, there are many QSRs that don’t even serve bone-in fried chicken — and they’re some of America’s favorite brands.
To meet demand for boneless, Broaster developed a boneless crunchy coating that’s “just amazing,” she said, on fillets for sandwiches and tenders.
The company also developed a spicy version of the same coating.
On the flip side, older generations are definitely driving demand for 8-piece bone-in chicken, Klaus said.
The demand for convenient options is also driving working parents to seek out quick meals options like take-out family packs as well as meal kits that they can grab and prepare at home, she added.
Grocery delis could also benefit from leaning into meal kit demand by using their leftover fried chicken and shredding it and mixing with a sauce for tacos, bbq sandwiches or other meal options.
Broaster is investing in new features to help alleviate labor shortages and shorten training time, Klaus said.
The company’s new E-Series line features auto oil filtering between cook cycles, automatic pressure release and the SmartTouch touch screen controller, which all make back of house operations easier than ever.
“The E-Series line has really helped operators with labor shortages and training challenges. Especially with the 8 head capacity and auto-lift, we’re hearing great feedback from the field.”
Seasonings — heat, sweet and beyond
Seasonings can play a big role in the success of a deli prepared fried chicken program. Broaster, for instance, has developed new coatings for spicier flavor profiles as well as some specific options for boneless options like tenders and sandwiches.
“The crisp crust or coating on fried chicken can be flavored in myriad ways,” said John Brewer, vice president of sales and marketing for Excalibur Seasoning.
Excalibur’s marinades, Brewer said, are a perfect mix with seasoned flour or batter on chicken pieces prior to breading, whether the protein is pan fried, deep fried, pressure fried or air fried.
One popular option for Excalibur’s customers is Kentucky Bourbon, in which the bourbon is “front and center,” Brewer said, and rounded out by rich caramelized oak notes and a subtle dash of vanilla and fruit.
Excalibur’s Maple Korean BBQ, meanwhile, is made with pure maple sugar balanced with rich, savory and spicy flavors.
Chipotle Habanero is a blend that will bring the heat in fried chicken with chipotle, habanero, jalapeno, and sweet bell peppers, and Garlic & Herb is another savory choice with an aromatic blend of garlic, red and green bell peppers, and parsley.
When it comes to rubs, Excalibur’s Nashville Hot is sweet and smoky with a kick. And, Brewer said, it’s easy to prepare: simply drizzle oil on the chicken, dredge in a mixture of flour and seasoning, and cook.
Garlic Pepper, Butter Garlic, and Buffalo Wing are other Excalibur rubs that work great on fried chicken, he added.
Fried chicken innovation has benefited, Brewer said, from other recent trends in the chicken world.
“I would say the popularity of wings and the revolution of the crispy chicken sandwich have really ignited the unique flavor trends for fried chicken today.”
Bold, sweet, and spicy flavor profiles have found their way onto most menus, he added.
Almost all large restaurant chains in the U.S. have some form of fried chicken on the menu board and offer it in a variety of flavors, and that can also be seen in grocery prepared.
“It’s not just your mom’s fried chicken anymore,” Brewer said.
“In recent years, there has been and still is a growing demand for global flavor, and fusions, in particular. Our R&D team does a great job of creating new flavors based on the trends we feel will resonate best with our customers.”
This article is an excerpt from the September 2023 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Fried Chicken feature and more in the digital edition here.