Few dishes in the American foodservice landscape have the same power to excite diners as fried chicken. Tasty, nostalgic, and flavorful, this menu staple has the power to attract guests and help restaurants build a loyal following—but only if the chicken is done right. Because it’s such a familiar dish, guests know if chicken is improperly cooked or seasoned, and failing to deliver on this fan favorite can chase diners away. This is why it’s crucial for brands to not only offer chicken, but to make sure that every piece that leaves the kitchen has the perfect flavor, quality, and texture.
Yet given the challenges of today’s restaurant environment, such as labor shortages, it can be difficult for any restaurant to ensure that kind of consistency at scale with traditional frying and grilling techniques. That’s why more than 60 years ago, L. A. M. Phelan tried to find a way to cook chicken more quickly while packing in flavor. By combining components of a pressure cooker with a deep fryer, Phelan was able to do just that and created a new technique called pressure frying.
“Mr. Phelan had a passion for fried chicken and wanted to come up with a better way cook chicken so that it tasted better than traditional open-fried chicken or chicken that was fried on a grill top in a pan,” says Jay Cipra, CEO of the Broaster Company. “From there he came up with his own lines of marinades and coatings, and that was the birth of the Broaster Company.”
Today, Broaster offers trademarked, turnkey food programs for mom-and-pop shops and multi-unit restaurants, as well as C-stores, grocery, and colleges and universities. The product starts with fresh chicken mostly sourced from family farms across the U.S., and then the chicken is then marinated in Broaster’s proprietary seasoning solutions overnight in Broaster restaurants. There, it is hand-coated by operators and then pressure fried in Broaster equipment.
“We provide an exemplary trademark food solution for small- and medium-sized operators without having to enter into a franchise agreement, which is a huge benefit to the operator,” says Greg West, senior vice president of marketing and food innovation at Broaster. “Not only do we provide a great-tasting chicken product directly to consumers, but we do it in such a way that operators are able to make money each and every day.”
Today, the “broasting” cooking technique has become an icon throughout the Midwest. One of the reasons it caught on is the way this form of pressure frying reduces the amount of oil absorbed by chicken during the cooking process. This creates a healthier take on fried chicken than is available with other cooking techniques, and it saves on oil expenses and reduces flavor transfer when multiple products are cooked in the same equipment.
Another big benefit is that broasting helps keep chicken from drying out. Cipra says this is because this technique sears the outside of the chicken so that oils don’t seep into the meat. This also helps lock in the chicken’s own natural juices to create a more flavorful product, and with the company’s line of marinades and seasonings, brands can serve big, bold tastes that today’s consumers demand.
“Broasting does a much better job sealing in all the moisture and juices than other cooking techniques,” West says. “Genuine Broaster Chicken is extremely popular product, and it has been for over half a century.”
This long history is one of the top selling points of Broaster Chicken, and offering this product can help differentiate restaurants from competition in part because it already has a loyal audience. “We’ve built truly great brand recognition in the Midwest, and as diners are moving to other parts of the U.S., people have gone so far as to plan out trips so that they can stop at Broaster restaurants,” West says.
Broaster’s legacy among diners also helps it stand out from other chicken options among younger dinners. “Millennials are looking for a way to become a part of the products that they consume,” Cipra says. “Having a story like Genuine Broaster Chicken’s origins in 1954 makes us a great fit. With a strong a story behind our product, we offer a connection for millennials that helps restaurants capitalize on this trend.”
Just because Genuine Broaster Chicken has been a fan favorite for so long, however, doesn’t mean that the company is set in its ways. Taking a page from Phelan’s book, The Broaster Company continues to evolve its equipment and processes. “Our engineering department is constantly looking towards equipment trends, and right now, that has a lot to do with automation,” Cipra says. “Our second generation Smart Touch Controller is automating the way the machine runs. As we look forward, we will have future innovations in oil management, overall efficiency of the unit, and ease of use for the for the operator.”
This advanced Broaster equipment ensures that food is cooked perfectly every time, regardless of industry-wide challenges, such as employee turnover. Additionally, with strong chicken sales throughout foodservice, Genuine Broaster Chicken provides operators with strong returns on investment. This is in part due to the fact that fried chicken can be served across the menu during all day parts, and the equipment can also be used for other products, too.
“If operators are going to make an investment in equipment, they want to know that it’s versatile,” Cipra says. “You want it to work for you across multiple dayparts and across multiple proteins. Broasted pork chops and turkey are just to die for. You could even do boneless chicken tenders. Whether you're a chef that's interested in special, unique type products or ways to make the platform for versatile throughout the year, we offer a solution.”
Restaurant success, however, all comes back to serving food, West says. “We've proven that we bring high quality and brand recognition that will bring additional people into restaurants,” West says. “We drive loyalty with existing consumers and also the curiosity of the new consumer who may not recognize the brand yet.” l