You’d Better Beef Up Your Poultry Recipes

grilled chicken with roast tomatoes

Now is a good time to add imaginative poultry dishes to the menu, no matter which cuisine you specialize in. Wonder why?

In a nutshell, beef prices have increased an average of $1.00 per pound in the past six years. That’s bad enough but experts expect the cost to skyrocket by the summer of 2013 due to the double whammy of drought across the major areas that beef is raised in and the rising price of corn which increases the price of feed. Farmers are producing fewer animals and there for the demand is far more than the supply.

If you own a restaurant or catering business you need to keep abreast of the news when it comes to figuring your costs. When beef prices begin to climb it is time to revamp your menu to make it more customer friendly.

Concentrate on Other Proteins

Rather than giving the other proteins on your menu the supporting roles while beef gets all the attention, try offering a variety of unique main course based on fish, poultry, pork, and vegetable proteins. Not only can these dishes be sold for less money, they can also show your clientele that you are interested in their health since these foods are perceived as healthier protein options.

Poultry Continues to Be a Popular Money Saver

Poultry dishes have become more and more popular as people discover their versatility and flavor. Adding a simple dish like this roast chicken breast with grilled tomatoes will almost always be a good move.  Made with fresh ingredients, these types of dishes go together quickly and easily. Chicken breast is low calorie, high protein, and cooks in just a few minutes which means that those perfect plates get to the table much more quickly than in the past.

Go for Fresh, Local, and Sustainable

Don’t settle for the run of the mill poultry dishes that everyone else is serving. Choose unique recipes, carefully considering the tastes of the people that come into your restaurant.

A plain, grilled chicken breast can take many forms and add variety without extra work. Chopped, grilled tomatoes and basil creates one dish while mango, habanero, and cilantro give a totally different option yet both begin with chicken breast. Keep in mind that fresh, local, and organic are increasingly important to consumers and keep the dishes free of heavy sauces. Instead opt for fresh vegetable, herb, or fruit based salsas, pesto, and confits.

Cook with the Bone in for More Flavor

The more inexpensive cuts of poultry like the thigh add more flavor to sauces and casseroles than the breast meat, especially if the bone is left in during cooking. You can save money and time by cooking a large amount of thighs at once and then removing the skin and bones from the meat. The cooked meat can then be used in any number of dishes. Chicken cacciatore, chicken and dumplings, and chicken soup are perennial favorites that will increase your profit margin.

Update Old Favorites

Don’t be afraid to update and recreate favorite recipes with chicken instead of beef. Use grilled chicken instead of a ground beef patty in your burger menu. Try replacing pounded chicken breast for the beef in a swiss steak type dish. Chicken fried chicken, chicken tacos and enchiladas, and rotisserie chicken are all possibilities when it comes to cutting back on the more expensive beef dishes.

What This Means to the Home Cook

If you are a home cook you may be wondering how in the world this affects you!

That’s easy. Rising beef prices this summer (2013) are sure to take a bite out of your grocery budget unless you opt for other proteins, too. Keep beef for special occasions and stock up when it is on sale. Highlight poultry on your weekly menu plans.

  • Make use of your slow cooker by cooking as large an amount of chicken thighs as possible in it. Add the thighs, a bay leaf, some salt, and a cup or so of chicken broth and let the mixture cook on low for 8 – 10 hours. Then, let the meat cool, separate it from the bone and skin, and bag it in recipe sized portions to be added to casseroles as needed.
  • Serve barbecued drumsticks rather than barbecued beef.
  • Grill a batch of chicken breast at once and use it for quick, cool main dish salads on the days that it is too hot to cook.
  • Consider fresh sauces. Chicken pairs well with a large number of vegetables and fruits. Chopped strawberries with basil and balsamic are fresh and delicious spooned over a grilled chicken breast, as is pineapple salsa. Those fresh tomatoes and peppers of summer can be chopped and mixed with garlic and olive oil. Sweet corn can be roasted and then cut from the cob and added to chopped grilled onions and cilantro for another meal.
  • Get a rotisserie attachment for your grill and make your own rotisserie chicken.

Beef Will Always Have a Place on the Table

Don’t give up on beef altogether, just become choosier about the quality and price. If you don’t feel you have to consider it as your only option it will be easy to serve a variety of delicious meals without having to adjust your budget. Once the price drops back down a little you can readjust your menu to include more of America’s favorite meat.

image: marye audet

- Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. Cooking, baking, and recipe development have been a major part of her life since she baked her first loaf of bread at age 13. Luckily, with a husband, eight children, a son in law, and three grandchildren she has enough test-tasters to handle the steady stream of experiments that come from her kitchen.

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