It's nothing against rotisserie chicken—after all, the bird is the word for many stores that have built their prepared foods business around ready-to-eat poultry. But there are other options for hearty, consumer-appealing meat dishes for hot food bars and grocerants.
Just ask the man who wrote the book on meat. Bruce Aidells, author of "The Great Meat Cookbook" and other cookbooks and tomes, has some advice for retailers with foodservice operations in their stores.
“If you have rotisserie all set up anyway, think of porchetta,” he says, noting that porchetta is rich in flavor and appeals to today’s consumers who seek more and different types of proteins in their convenience-oriented yet culinarily adventurous mindset. Porchetta is easily paired and well served with crusty bread, which can also be merchandised in a prepared foods area of a supermarket.
Getting creative with meats requires some inventiveness, but isn’t overwhelming in execution, Aidells says. “They can easily do it. Porchetta is an extremely popular cut with restaurants now, where pork belly is everything,” he says.
Likewise, retail foodservice lends itself to other proteins that do well in such settings and among discerning shoppers. “For me, the main requirement should be things that sit well—braises and stews, for example. Then you can follow trends, like ethnic Italian stews that are popular, braised short ribs Korean style or Indian curries,” Aidells says. “These are all simple, because they are essential peasant dishes. They aren’t going to be difficult in the kitchen.”
Grocers and should leverage their meat department when adding such meals to their foodservice areas. “You can use cuts like bottom round, eye or round or other cuts that are harder to sell and put in a nice savory filling and then tie and roll it and use it with a tomato-based or wine-based sauce,” he says, citing menu items such as the Italian specialty of braciola.
The fact that many of these dishes are also wholesome and protein-rich also resonate with consumers. According to Technomic, 75% of consumers are drawn to foods that are natural, ethnic, premium and locally sourced.
Hearty, peasant-style and often ethnic meats that are braised, stewed and roasted also fall in line with the top concept trends for 2018 put forth by chef members of the American Culinary Federation. Among those concept trends are chef-driven fast-casual concepts, clean menus with high quality proteins, locally sourced meat and seafood, and a desire for back-to-basics cooking and classic dishes.