Poultry goes gourmet with the times

Changing tastes, changing demographics and an increasing openness by New Zealanders to new dining experiences are driving the popularity of a number of new products that barely figured on hospitality menus only a few years ago.

Leading suppliers to the foodservice sector such as Tegel Foods, Inghams, Brinks and Turks now offer a comprehensive range of fresh and frozen whole chickens and prime cuts, including a range of size-graded options to suit portion control plate requirements. Tegel also supplies frozen whole turkeys and turkey prime cuts.

For fast and safe catering solutions, for events of all sizes, there’s now a diverse range of fully cooked value-added products, from finger foods to centre of plate items. Free-flow frozen, sliced, roasted and smoked chicken breast fillets make quick work of smallgoods solutions for sandwiches, salads or cooked products.

The influences of foreign travel and immigration are also seeing New Zealanders embrace gourmet poultry meats such as duck, turkey, quail, poussin, goose and pheasant in ever greater numbers.

Lachlan Dick, from Rangiora-based Canter Valley Processors, reports steadily-growing demand from chefs, caterers for his company’s manuka-smoked duck breasts.

“The flavour’s awesome,” he says, “and is particularly good as part of a summer salad.” Canter Valley supplies its smoked duck breast fillets Cryovac-packed in the half-breast direct to restaurants or online.

Increasing recognition of the versatility of duck as a year-round dining choice has also meant steady increases in sales for Cambridge-based supplier, Quack ‘a’ Duck.

“While orders from airlines and Asian customers were the initial catalyst for growth, in the last couple of years we’ve seen Kiwis as a whole take a real liking to duck,” says Quack ‘a’ Duck’s Matthew Houston.

“In the winter months confit duck leg is becoming a very popular dining choice, and duck breast lends itself well as part of a salad in summer. We are also seeing a steady expansion of breast and leg cuts in retail as consumers become more adventurous.”

Quail eggs, once a rarity, are yet another gourmet item that’s gaining quickly in popularity.

“Quail eggs are well suited for use in salads and are great for canapés as they look dainty and cute,” says Canter Valley’s Lachlan Dick. “They also have a delicate flavor when poached.”

Turkey, once a near-annual dining occasion for New Zealanders, is also getting a new lease of life as a lean, healthy, high-protein alternative to ground beef, he says.

“Turkey mince has a subtle flavour and lends itself well to use in many familiar recipes including patties, stir-fries, meat balls, burgers, chilli, lasagne and casseroles.

“And for chefs catering for health-conscious diners, a 113g serving of turkey offers about 65% of your daily recommended protein while providing you with nearly half the saturated fat found in red meat. A 75g serving of skinless white turkey meat contains 25g of protein, barely 3g of fat, and less than 1g of saturated fat.”

In addition to supplying 400g packs of turkey mince, Canter Valley sells other foodservice turkey cuts including boneless breasts and buffet products.







This article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Restaurant & Catering News, pages 14-16.