The Chick-fil-A cauliflower hen sandwich tastes surprisingly good


DENVER — You possibly can rice it, you may pickle it, you may rework it into pizza crust. You possibly can roast it whole and carve it tableside. You possibly can even flip it into a steak and wings.

Is there something cauliflower can’t do?

Right here’s a brand new one: Breaded and fried, cauliflower can develop into a Chick-fil-A sandwich. On Monday, the fast-food chain recognized for its hen, pleasant customer support and anti-LGBTQ stances rolled out the Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich in three take a look at markets: Charleston, S.C.; North Carolina’s Piedmont-Triad area, which incorporates Greensboro and Winston-Salem; and right here, in Denver. Relying on the situation, a cauliflower sandwich prices about $7, in contrast with about $5 for the hen model.

Going by seems to be alone, the vegetable sandwich is almost indistinguishable from its poultry counterpart. That’s as a result of the tactic is principally the identical — substitute the hen for a cauliflower “fillet,” then marinate, bread with the unique seasoning and pressure-cook to order. Although the sandwich relies on crops, it’s not vegan: The breading consists of milk and an egg wash, and eating places don’t designate vegetarian-only preparation surfaces.

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Easy although it might appear, it took about 4 years of testing to nail down the tactic and recipe. “Our challenges actually stem extra from operational points vs. style,” Stuart Tracy, Chick-fil-A’s principal culinary lead for menu and packaging, stated by way of e-mail. “Our Operators and Group Members have to have the ability to put together and serve menu choices with ease, so among the concepts we had had been good in principle, however they might have put an excessive amount of strain on our restaurant groups.”

Tracy’s group experimented with complete and chopped greens fashioned into patties, too. “However,” stated Tracy, “I’ve all the time beloved cauliflower and cooked with it in my eating places in Charleston and Atlanta earlier than coming to Chick-fil-A.” (That will be Butcher & Bee and the now-closed Parish, respectively.)

Chick-fil-A labored with suppliers to develop and slice the vegetable to particular dimensions, USA Immediately reported. “The Cauliflower Sandwich carried out head and shoulders above the remainder of the choices by way of style and uniqueness, and it occurs to have low operational complexity,” Tracy stated.

Different fast-food giants have more and more turned to plant-based meats: Burger King and White Castle use Impossible Burgers in variations of their Whoppers and sliders; Carl’s Jr. (however not its Japanese counterpart, Hardee’s) gives a burger with Past Meat. Buffalo Wild Wings makes cauliflower wings, whereas Chipotle — whose first restaurant opened in Denver in 1993 — rolled out vegan protein Sofritas in 2014 (although Chipotle and different burrito chains can in fact all the time depend on that almost all iconic vegan protein, beans).

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In 2022, McDonald’s briefly bought the McPlant, and Kentucky Fried Rooster examined nuggets, each developed with Past Meat. When you stay in Britain, you will get your fingers on a Creole Pink Bean Sandwich at Popeyes and KFC’s vegan burger, made with a filet from the corporate Quorn.

However an precise vegetable, entrance and heart? Possibly this iteration will survive the general cooling of alt-meat fever. “For a number of years now, we’ve constantly heard that our company are looking for extra veggie-centric entrees, which is why we began engaged on a plant-forward possibility that was uniquely Chick-fil-A,” Tracy stated.

Assuming your powers of scent are intact, past seems to be, there isn’t any mistaking this sandwich for hen. Open the bag and a telltale whiff of cooked brassica streams out, due to cauliflower’s sulfur-containing compounds, glucosinolates.

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When you haven’t eaten a chicken sandwich shortly, you’d be forgiven for pondering the feel is near poultry. The cauliflower options that protein-like — not disagreeable — stringiness typical of a hen breast. Just a few extra bites in, and there’s an uncanny tendon-like chew. Are cauli-tendons a factor? The breading stays crisp, which is spectacular given the tender vegetable inside. It doesn’t, alas, style like hen; the flavour is cauliflower by and thru, with a faint vegetal sweetness and a tickle of warmth from the marinade. One sandwich left me glad however not stuffed, although I nonetheless felt like I ate one thing fried in oil. (Additionally, if cruciferous greens make your burps additional spicy, effectively, you’ve been warned.)

Eat the cauliflower facet by facet with a hen sandwich and also you’ll understand that the vegetable model sports activities a a lot softer texture (it ought to have been apparent, I do know). I had questioned in regards to the structural integrity, however the sandwich held collectively effectively, although the breading crumbles off a bit extra simply than with the hen model. Backside line: When you like cauliflower, this sandwich is objectively scrumptious.

Don’t depend these cauliflowers earlier than they hatch, although. After the trial ends in mid-Could — or sooner, if Chick-fil-A runs out — Tracy’s group will assess, amongst different components, buyer enthusiasm and suggestions from restaurant operators earlier than deciding if the cauliflower sandwich will debut nationwide.

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