Monday, April 27, 2009

Grand Hu$tle?!? : KFC Grilled Chicken.

I've been thinking about fried chicken a lot lately for some reason. Maybe it's cause I'm overdue for a visit to my Grandma's. Maybe because it's warming up, and hot weather means chicken & watermelon. Maybe it's just hardwired in a black man's DNA.

In any event, last week's edition of Poll Position revealed that you guys have some inexplicable liking for Popeye's Chicken. I really don't get this. I suppose the sides are okay, but Popeye's Chicken is loaded with greasiness, perhaps rivaling that of the diabolical Church's Chicken. KFC, which I figured would win the competition going away, finished a distant 4th.

With this imminent danger lurking, the folks at Yum! Brands (which used to be headed by a brother, BTW) are reaching deep in the batter for tricks just to maintain their market share. And to that effect, we now have KFC's latest invention, the aptly named Kentucky Grilled Chicken.
In the past, KFC has made various tries with rotisserie chicken, roasted chicken, grilled chicken strips and the dreaded skinless, boneless, grilled chicken breast. Need I add flavorless? Chicken breasts are getting away with murder on the American menu board. I’d rather eat cardboard. At least cardboard has some fiber.

Now comes KFC with its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken, prepared with a patented process that super-grills the chicken and keeps the meat flavorful and juicy. The chicken is placed on a grill that goes into an oven. The chicken emerges with grill marks — not fake, drawn-on grill marks. Here’s the blueprint: grilled chicken, with skin on.

Total calories: 140 (one thigh). Fat grams: 9. Dietary fiber: 0. Carbs: 0. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $3.99 for two pieces of chicken, two sides and a biscuit.

The nutritional comparison between fried and grilled chicken is a kick in the gut. An Extra Crispy thigh has nearly three times the calories and fat as a grilled thigh. And if you stick to white meat, the fat melts away even more. A grilled chicken breast has only 4 fat grams.

The secret to KFC’s satisfying grilled chicken is its new patented cooking process. The chicken is placed on a grill inside an oven. Different sizes and pieces of chicken are cooked on different parts of the grill, so they’re all done at the same time. Don’t ask how they do that. It’s a secret.

The chicken is marinated and covered with six herbs and spices. Here we go again with the KFC secrets. At least we’re making progress — Original Recipe has 11 secret herbs and spices.
I'm sure you've seen the nifty commercials by now. There's the one with G. Garvin...

... the obligatory "the CEO says it's good, so it must be good. Trust him, he's the CEO and he's got a really cool foreign accent and all folks with foreign accents are extra intelligent, so lets go get us a bucket already!" spot.

... and my personal favorite, with BET Alum (and my frat brother) Joe Clair, who seems to be making a pretty decent living off such commercials. Get that money, Nupe!

Sounds good, but how does it taste?

Synopsis: I bit the figurative bullet and tried a 2 piece last week. For all the fuss, I expected the chicken to be lousy, but it was actually very good. Despite being grilled, it was still juicy, yet not overly so. The difference in taste between this and KFC is distinct, if you didn't know any better, you'd swear this was made somewhere else. I suppose the 5 extra herbs and spices do indeed make a difference. Still, you could do worse. You could also do better. Anyone with a gas grill, some seasoning salt, and a basic knowledge of indirect heating could probably top this at home. I do. Routinely.

Final Verdict: Legit. The chicken isn't bad, and thankfully KFC isn't going overboard and marketing this as "healthy" food, merely "different" food. Calling this healthy when the sides are still laden with fat and loaded with calories would be dishonest. Score one for KFC for providing an alternative without getting all sacrilegious in the process. Then again, isn't the whole point of going to KFC to beast-out on some food you know your a$$ shouldn't be eating in the first place? While the initial over-the-top PR blitz[1] will likely sell some chicken, over time, I see this failing for that very reason.

Question: Can you name another food people pay good money for that you could otherwise make at home? Have you tried KFC Grilled Chicken? If not, today is your lucky day, they are apparently handing out free pieces of chicken to all comers, while supplies last. Try not to get trampled in the process, cause that would be one story you don't wanna explain to your kids.

KFC’s Grilled Chicken is delicious and healthy [HoustonChronicle]

[1] Seriously, we have a Black President. WTF is up with all this dancin' for chicken?!?

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