Why did the consumer cross the road? To watch the Food Network and other TV food shows to see how chefs are using dark chicken meat as an ingredient and center-of-the-plate protein.
Thanks in part to shows like “America’s Test Kitchen,” more consumers are learning how dark chicken is used in recipes, says Tom Super, vice president of communications for the National Chicken Council. On a recent episode of “America’s Test Kitchen,” test cook Julia Collin Davison instructed show host Christopher Kimball and TV viewers how to prepare Mahogany Chicken Thighs.
“They are tricky to cook because you have to braise them for a long time to really break down the collagen and make sure the dark meat gets good and moist,” Collin Davison said. “But, of course, that leaves you with flabby skin. So our goal was to have both –a nice, crisp, brown skin, but also really juicy, moist meat that has all of that collagen broken down.”
The finished product was just that, and had Collin Davison and Kimball gushing about its taste and texture.
Super believes that more consumers are purchasing dark chicken at retail and ordering dishes featuring it at restaurants because of its increased exposure.
“I think we’ll continue to see more consumers turning to the dark side,” he says.
Last spring, Tyson Foods Inc.’s President and CEO Donnie Smith said the company has reduced exports of dark meat chicken in the past five years partly because the company is using more of it in other products. In a conference call last August, Smith again touted the importance of dark chicken to Tyson’s product line.
“We’re pulling innovation projects forward and adding new ideas to the pipeline that include dark meat utilization,” he said. “Most of these products will fall into our Prepared Foods segment for branded items like Aidells Sausage, Ball Park Flame Grilled Chicken Patties, and a host of foodservice applications. So, we’re excited about the opportunities there, not just for the short term but for the longer term as well.”