3 ways to pair global flavors with familiar favorites

Global flavors are trending on virtually all menu parts—from breakfast to desserts, operators are tapping into consumers’ desire to try something new. But for consumers who want to try out something new without going too far outside of their comfort zone, familiar foods such as chicken provide a great opportunity.

Chicken, one of the most popular proteins, is a great base for a number of global flavors, providing consumers with a familiar base to explore new flavors. Nearly a quarter of consumers (24%) purchase ethnic fare from restaurants at least once a week, and the number one deterrent to doing so is that they don’t want to pay for an item they may not like, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavorreport. By menuing new ingredients or flavors alongside something consumers are already very familiar with, such as chicken, the chance that they’ll purchase (and enjoy) a global-inspired meal could be higher.

Check out a few of the ways chicken can help operators capitalize on global flavor trends.

Familiar appetizers

Appetizers such as chicken satay—a dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, typically served with peanut sauce—are an approachable food that doesn’t require diners to dive headfirst into global cuisine. After all, who hasn’t had grilled chicken?

Chicken also works well in appetizers such as potstickers and other dumplings—ground chicken mixed with veggies like scallions and mushrooms, then wrapped into a wonton skin or bao are a perfect starter for diners who want a global-flavored appetizer. Egg rolls are another great chicken appetizer that’s global—and they’re the most popular ethnic appetizer, with 55% of consumers saying they’d be likely to order them, according to Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates & Sides report.

Savory and spicy entrees

Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Poultry report finds that 45% of consumers agree that restaurants should offer more chicken entrees with ethnic ingredients and flavors. So, it’s convenient that one of the fastest growing ingredients paired with chicken—harissa, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor—is a hot chili pepper paste typically associated with Moroccan and other African cuisines. It pairs well with a variety of proteins, including chicken, as well as other meats and even plant-based options.

For diners who don’t want a spicy chicken dish, though, Indian tandoori chicken tikka is perfect. It’s chicken, marinated in yogurt and spices, then roasted or cooked in a tandoor (a clay oven).  Other global chicken flavors that are trending, according to Technomic’s Poultry report, include South African (+33% year-over-year), Mediterranean (+29%) and Tropical/Caribbean (+19%).

At the sandwich counter

For diners who are curious about ethnic tastes but prefer to eat dishes they’re familiar with, sandwiches are the perfect sweet spot to riff on classics. For the 50% of 18- to 34-year-olds who say they’d like restaurants to offer more sandwiches with new or unique flavors, according to Technomic’s 2018 Sandwich report, ethnic condiments and ingredients are perfect. Try adding pickled vegetables like pickled carrots or daikon for a chicken banh mi, or use Sriracha aioli on a fried chicken sandwich to appeal to diners interested in both global flavors and spicy chicken.

Global flavors are making big waves on menus right now, and for operators who want to join in on the fun, menuing them alongside familiar chicken dishes can be a home run.

This post is sponsored by Pierce Chicken


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