Chicken Gets New Respect

I’ve always loved chicken.  Granted, it can get a little boring (“Mom, chicken again!).  But I find it to be a fabulous canvass for adding flavor, and it’s incredibly versatile.  Now it appears that this humble bird is experiencing new-found love.  A report on 2013 food trends from The Hartman Group says chicken is evolving from a weeknight afterthought to destination eatery. Several trend trackers included chicken on their 2013 food trend lists, including:

Much of this has to do with chefs who are celebrating chicken — highlighting globally-inspired flavors and techniques, focusing on heritage breeds and elevating ethical, humanely-raised birds.  With the casualization of cuisine today,many chefs are moving on from burgers and focusing on chicken as their new favorite protein.

Here are a few chicken trends and the creative ways chefs are putting poultry on the map.


The famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten got into casual dining with the opening of Simply Chicken in New York City.  The eatery features organic chicken, and you know if Jean-Georges is involved, it will be amazing.

simplychicken-001

image from Simply Chicken

One of the biggest trends is heirloom chicken — just like heirloom turkeys and heritage pigs that paved the way.  Now it appears that chicken is getting the same type of attention.  Expect to see more breed designations on packaging and restaurant menus.   Thomas Keller has helped make Jidori chicken famous, and now this heritage breed, which is Japanese for “chicken of the earth,” is featured on the menu at Farmshop, from  Keller’s former right-hand man Jeffrey Cerciello.

Shawn Doty’s restaurant Bantam + Biddy in Atlanta serves local and pastured rotisserie chicken with a choice of sauces, including  Piri Piri, Dominican-style wasakaka (warm garlic and parsley), Beer Mustard and Sweet Blue Ridge BBQ.   Chicken Scratch in Dallas serves fried and rotissierie chicken.

Wing Wings in San Francisco serves free-range chicken wings with unique, full-flavor housemade sauces like Angry Korean and Orange Miso.

Chicken Wing Wings

 Angry Korean Wings at Wing Wings in San Francisco by MichaelEatsSF on flickr

Korean barbecue is hot, hot, hot, and Korean fried chicken, often wings, is a shining star.  At BonChon , a chain in New York and other markets, you’ll find made-to-order wings served with hot sauce or soy garlic sauce.

  chicken bonchon

BonChon Korean Fried Chicken courtesy of Jalapeno on flickr

Zankou Chicken is a Southern California chain with a Middle Eastern flare.  You’ll find garlicky kebabs, the way I love to prepare chicken at home.

 chicken - Zankou

Zankou chicken by citymama on flickr

Beyond heirloom chicken, another trend in the category of  better-raised birds is the concept of traceable chicken.  That’s the selling point of  Just Bare Chicken which is “certifed humane” and includes a code on each package that allows you to trace your chicken back to the family farm where it was raised.

 Just-bare-chicken1

Chefs are also helping to share techniques and recipes so home cooks can aspire to better-tasting birds in their own kitchens.  One of those trends is spatchcock.  Have your ever spatchcocked a chicken before roasting or grilling?

How do you like to prepare chicken?  Here’s some inspiration from some of my favorite bloggers and websites:

The Kitchn 15 Fresh & Tasty Chicken Recipes
Cooking Light 25 Best Chicken Recipes
Food 52 Top Rated Chicken Recipes
Saveur Korean Fried Chicken
Spoon Fork Bacon Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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