Fried Chicken – comfort food of our times

As the Covid-19 lockdown hit and people were unable to do many of the things they were used to, there was a huge trend of turning to food for a bit of a mood boost. Treating yourselves with a takeaway or splashing out on premium ice cream from the supermarket became totally acceptable, because, well, what else was there to do?

One of the comfort-eats that emerged as a clear winner is fried chicken. Already a fashionable food thanks to specialist ‘dirty chicken’ restaurants serving up fried chicken every which way, its popularity has surged further under lockdown. Juicy chicken, crispy coatings and finger-licking seasonings – if anything is going to deliver a feel-good feat, it’s fried chicken. While pizza or a burger may be easy to rustle up at home – especially with supermarket options on offer, genuine fried chicken, with its layers of wet and dry coatings, special spice blends, not to mention a sizzle in the deep fryer, is more work than most comfort-food seeking home cooks want to undertake. For commercial kitchens however, it’s quick and easy to cook, and it also transports well, making it ideal for a lockdown takeaway.

In a bun, in a bucket, on a pizza, in a po’boy – even used as the bun (or taco shell) itself, fried chicken is the perfect food for experimentation. And experiment people have. Here are our top three trends:

Going global

Imparting flavour into fried chicken comes in many guises, from marinades to dry rubs to seasoned breaders and of course, lots of sauce. Seasonings and cooking styles have been inspired by cuisines from around the world to bring exciting new flavour profiles and eating experiences to fried chicken. Nashville Hot Chicken was a rising trend even before lockdown, adding a fiery twist to classic American fried chicken. Continuing on the spicy theme, Caribbean jerk, Sichuan and Indian spiced chicken have also been on the rise for those who love a chilli kick with their chicken. Staying over in east Asia, Japanese flour-dipped karaage and twice-fried Korean fried chicken continue to be popular. Taiwanese fried chicken is also making an appearance, cooked in a similar method to the Korean twice-fried style but using batter rather than dry flour.

Big crunch

While seasoned flours, batters and breaders can all deliver a wonderful crunch, kitchens are getting more and more creative in search of a more rugged crunchy coating, turning to cereals and crisps for something a little different. Puffed rice and cornflakes create incredible texture, adding serious volume to the substrate, while cheesy corn snacks such as Cheetos bring a huge amount of flavour too. And the mention of a brand name or two on the menu just adds even more fun into the mix.

Sweet treats

First it was bacon candy and beef burgers with doughnuts for buns – and now we’re seeing fried chicken make that sweet-savoury crossover, perhaps unsurprisingly given the popularity of chicken with waffles and maple syrup in the states. From sticky barbecue sauces that go big on the honey or syrup, to seriously sweet confections such as fried chicken with doughnuts or even ice cream, this trend proves that fried chicken can be delicious with almost anything.

Bonus trend: fried faux chicken

It wouldn’t be 2020 without a mention of plant-based would it?.Anything chicken can do, plant-based can do, if not better, then at least just as well. Trendy ‘chick’n’ shops are serving up meat-free chicken alternatives made from everything from seitan to jackfruit with a host of imaginative toppings and accompaniments to ensure that no-one misses the meat. They look set to go from strength to strength as plant-based powers onwards and upwards.

Pre-dusts, breaders, batters, marinades and more

Bowman Ingredients are experts when it comes to fried chicken coatings, supplying leading retail and food service brands with their own unique coating systems. Whatever the flavour, texture and cooking method you have in mind, we can deliver what you need, at scale.