Fried chicken has been experiencing a resurgence in recent years and Giorgio Nadi, CEO of Idan’s Texas Fried Chicken Breading, a leader in the fried chicken breading, seasoning, baking mix and packaging industry, can explain why. The Hawthorne, N.J., company’s products are used in more than 1,000 restaurants nationwide. Idan develops and manufactures a multitude of custom blends and mixes from food coatings and spice blends to one-step baking mixes, tailored to customers’ tastebuds. This year alone, Nadi anticipates a 20-percent growth range, new items and expanded distribution. A former equity trader, Nadi joined his father, Barry, at Idan in 2010, using his business acumen to challenge the business model, boost sales and get ahead of consumer trends.
In MRM Talking With, Nadi discusses how breading and seasonings have evolved, the appeal of fried chicken and offers the “World’s Most Sought-After Fried Chicken Recipe.”
What is the history of the business and what is your role?
Dry mix breadings for many years have been quite simple. Mostly flour-based in nature, breadings were used to give bland and tasteless foods a bit of flavor and taste. Idan creates both custom and proprietary dry mixes for food service distributors and food franchises. Our role is to create both classic and unique dry mix products that help our customers achieve their goals.
In what ways do you feel breading and seasoning have evolved?
Breadings were primarily made of wheat flour blended with mild seasonings used for fried chicken. Now as restaurant menu items have expanded, we are using a variety of flours and starches to create that exact crunch or crisp that our customers are looking for. Whether it be a coating for a buffalo-style calamari or rice flours for a tempura onion ring, we find out exactly what our customers are looking for and deliver them unique products.
How have trends such as Hot Chicken affected breading?
Hot Chicken is most popular throughout various states in the South and is only starting to get some traction up North. We are seeing more and more of our customers looking for extremely hot and spicy breadings. They are loving the results. We use incredibly flavorful, hot and spicy and ingredients that make our breadings and coatings very unique.
How has breading been impacted by healthy-eating trends where many avoid breaded or fried items?
Some healthy trends have effect consumers eating breaded items, but not for the long term. When the Atkins Diet was popular there was a drop in people eating breaded and fried foods, however, today people are eating more fried foods than ever. There are healthier options in regards to the oils, techniques and other ingredients used. If you live in California, chances are that you do not live too close to good fried chicken. People that live in California tend to have healthier eating habits than the rest of the nation.
What impact has the need for gluten-free products had on breading?
Gluten-free products are here to stay. The market has grown significantly. Many Gluten-free coatings are actually crispier and lighter when fried than wheat starch coatings.
What is the process of creating custom breading?
Engage with and listen to the customer. Research and Development to find the perfect mix. Quality assurance with our customers. Full scale production of coatings.
How do breading and seasonings vary regionally?
As mentioned, Californians do not eat as much fried foods compared to the rest of the nation. Most distributors and restaurants have only one flavor of breading or none at all. On the East Coast distributors and food companies offer multiple breadings that vary in spice, texture, and color. The Southerners like it hot and prefer a bit more spice.
What are some breading and seasoning trends?
Currently spicy breadings are very popular. We use a variety of unique flavors to achieve levels of spiciness from mild to extremely spicy and varying flavors.
What are challenges you see in the food & beverage industry?
There are several. One major challenge we see is that most large distributors offer customers inferior breadings and coatings. They are either too salty or bland. Sadly, many of the fried food items on restaurants menus today feature previously coated and frozen items. Pre-coated, pre-frozen chicken wings and onion rings are not nearly as exciting as something that has been fried with a freshly applied breading or batter.
Another issue is that there is not as strong of a push from the distributors to the restaurateurs to try new coatings and flavors. Similarly to restaurants having many sodas and soft drinks on their menus, they should have a number of different coatings for their various fried foods that they fry fresh. The industry could greatly improve customer choice and delight their customers with minimal investment by adjusting their purchasing habits and trying a better quality and larger variety of breadings.
Why do you feel fried chicken maintains its appeal?
Fried chicken is comfort food. Fried chicken is cheap. It requires only a few ingredients but it also requires some attention to the details. The oil needs to be the right temperature, the chicken needs to be seasoned first, and the coating needs to be crunchy and flavorful. If you’re eating good fried chicken, you know that someone just made it fresh.
What do you love about fried chicken?
Fried chicken is hot, crunchy, juicy, cheap, meaty, fatty, salty … I could go on and on.
World’s Most Sought-After Fried Chicken Recipe
- 1 whole 3-4lb chicken—broken down into parts
- 2 c. buttermilk
- 4 c. all-purpose flour
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Dried Thyme/Poultry Seasoning/Herbes de Provence
- Ground Celery Seed
- Cayenne Pepper
- Dried Cumin
- Ground Dried Sage
- Black Pepper
- Hot Sauce
- Peanut/Canola Oil or Lard for frying—Heated to 340-350 degrees
Make the buttermilk brine
Pour buttermilk into a large bowl and add 2 tablespoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon of each garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, ground celery seed, and ground dried sage. Add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Add chicken and soak anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.
Make the breading
Add flour to large bowl and add 2 tablespoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of each black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, paprika and 1 teaspoon of each ground celery seed and sage. Add 1/2 tsp of each cumin and cayenne pepper (This will make some extra breading so store half in an air-tight container for your next fried chicken craving).
Coat the chicken
Add 5-6 tablespoons of the buttermilk- brine marinade to bowl of chicken breading. Work the liquid into the breading with your fingertips. This creates little “pebbles” that when adhered to your chicken will make those crunchy little nubbins on the outside of your chicken. Now add the chicken pieces to the breading and coat well one at a time. Make sure to press the flour into the chicken well so that the breading and a few little nubbins adhere to your chicken.
Add coated chicken pieces to oil and fry for 12-15 minutes. Remove chicken and place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, skin side up to allow the fat to drain.