Publix Fried Chicken

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DawnT
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2008/08/03 03:02:40 (permalink)

Publix Fried Chicken

Locally, Publix appears to have beaten out KFC for the best tasting fried chicken in several published taste tests. Personally, I think their recipe of the 80's and early 90's was far better as well as the store made deli products before they went to plant manufactured coffin packaging.

I spent a few minutes observing the Publix chicken process. Here's what I can attest to.

They use Giles immersion fryers not pressure fryers.

The breader is propritary. There is no egg wash and the stuff is shoveled out of a holding container directly into the breading station. Each piece is breaded by hand with gloves and placed into a holding rack. There doesn't appear to be any specific breading procedure of pounding or multiple turns. It looks like each piece is simply shuffled around and placed into the holding rack

The chicken arrives in Cryovac bags that are drained and directly breaded in Giles breading stations. No difference then breading in a plastic busing pan with a rack to shake off the extra breading. I have no idea if the chicken had been previously brined in the Cryovac packaging. No confirmation yet.

The cooking cycle is 15 minutes with a stir indication at the last 5 minutes which is done with a pitch fork looking instrument and very sparingly. There doesn't appear to be any layering of the chicken. Each Cryovac package contains a mixture of all pieces. They are not cooking to a specific density with segregated pieces. Temp. appears to be 360-375 F. The packages of chicken cannot be more then 10 lbs.

The oil that is used is a blend of corn and cottonseed oil. The brand is "Master". The boxes that it comes in show no percentages or any other details including company contact info. It appears to be a liquid at room temp. so it's not hydroginated.

Chicken is turned out immediately when the frying basket raises.

All I know for now. The recipe that they used during the late 70's through the early 90's was vastly better. Either way, the current process beats out KFC and wins out the press's yearly "best of" for fried chicken. Anyone that can add to this would be greatly appreciated.

dt


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39 Replies Related Threads

    John A
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/05 06:45:59 (permalink)
    As usual, some stores are much better at rotating the chicken then others. Some do larger batches and let it sit while others do smaller batches and move it out. I think the breaded chicken tenders make the best chicken salad after being chilled for a couple of hours.
    #2
    juleebella
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/05 06:51:43 (permalink)
    Personally I find Publix fried chicken to be bland. On the other hand, their Mardi Gras wings are fantastic.
    #3
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/08 18:37:49 (permalink)
    I asked the deli manager what the temp they fried the chicken at. She went over to the fryer and hit one of the buttons and it showed 335 degrees. That's lower the I expected.
    #4
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/09 23:31:25 (permalink)
    OK, the plot thickens.

    This really isn't Publix Chicken at all, it's a non-franchise version of Chester's chicken that's Publix branded. The non-franchise version of Chester's is called Cruizin Chicken and sold as a complete concept from breader,marinade,fryer's and all of the necessary support to run your own fried chicken operation.
    #5
    Roy
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/10 00:00:59 (permalink)
    Personally I love the Publix fried chicken. I go south to Fl in the winter and look forward to getting it. I haven't found anything up north in supermarkets that compares to it.
    #6
    MiamiDon
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/10 11:11:57 (permalink)
    Publix fried chicken is worth eating? (who knew?) I hit Publix 4-5 times per week, and it never occured to me to buy the store-fried chicken. I figured it would be soggy or something from sitting around.
    #7
    David_NYC
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/10 11:31:56 (permalink)
    Dawn,
    I think these two web pages will explain a lot. Giles the equipment manufacturer seems to be part of the business.
    http://www.nationalflour.com
    http://www.cruisinchicken.com

    There are a few places in Manhattan that are essentially delis that have the Chester's Fried Chicken name on the business. I really like their chicken if just came out of the fryer. I have yet to see anyone selling Cruisin' Fried Chicken (correct spelling).
    #8
    hutt
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/10 11:42:55 (permalink)
    I've never seen ANY "taste test" that was worth looking at.
    KFC fried chicken is 10 times better than Publix.
    Every single box of Publix fried chicken is ruined by the employee putting it in the box. They don't know what the heck they're doing or they just don't care - whatever - they put the chicken into the box
    with most of the pieces UPSIDE DOWN. This makes the entire top of the chicken a horrible, soggy, greasy waste. Anyone with any savy to fried chicken knows that.
    Publix sucks.
    I've never seen the chicken at KFC laying there upside down.
    #9
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/10 18:03:55 (permalink)
    Thanks David. I already seen both of those pages. After I saw a bunch of breader boxes stacked up in the Deli marked with "National Flour and Supply Co." I searched it out and found that Giles owned them too. Following the links for Crusin,and Chester's, it only took a second to figure out that Giles owns the whole works and Publix is fronting their product. Publix might be doing some things slightly different then Chester's, but the breader, prep. and fryers are the same.

    You're right about the chicken. If you wait around for a load to come out, the chicken is quite good.
    YUM has let KFC's quality slip especially in the multibrand stores with Taco Bell where the chicken is treated as an after thought.
    #10
    ellen4641
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/11 01:35:56 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by MiamiDon

    Publix fried chicken is worth eating? (who knew?) I hit Publix 4-5 times per week, and it never occured to me to buy the store-fried chicken. I figured it would be soggy or something from sitting around.

    I tried it a few times when I was in Florida over the winter, due to a few Florida Roadfooders that were raving about it on this site.

    It was fresh, it was'nt soggy, but it just was'nt that GOOD, IMO...
    did'nt care for the batter all that much, too thick and bland, and missing that certain good crunch...
    I like a nice, flaky batter....
    (in all fairness, the meat had a good texture, and it was tender and juicy).

    I know what you mean about stuff sitting around, though, Don...as that is too often the case. Lukewarm, soggy food..

    Hey, Dawn how do you know so much? Sounds like you work for a rival company or something. It's okay, I'm cool...
    thanks for sharing with us!
    #11
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/11 17:38:13 (permalink)
    No Ellen, I don't work for any foodservice or related industry. My daughter and I do enjoy recipe sleuthing though. It's amazing what you can learn with a little observation and a few questions. KFC has seen better days, so short of driving some distance to get good prepared chicken, Publix is good and dependable alternative. BTW, the last box that I bought was quite cruncy. The coating wasn't too thick either as it's just breaded once here. Chester's specifies a double breading on their website. Perhaps some Publix's may do it differently.
    #12
    roossy90
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/30 23:16:38 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by MiamiDon

    Publix fried chicken is worth eating? (who knew?) I hit Publix 4-5 times per week, and it never occured to me to buy the store-fried chicken. I figured it would be soggy or something from sitting around.

    Now I have to try some. I wonder what time they start making it.
    I want a fresh batch.

    I smell a review and pics coming up just for the heck of it.
    #13
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/30 23:37:29 (permalink)
    Well, if Tara is contemplating a review, maybe I should get back to sleuthing Publix/Chester Fried Chicken.

    #14
    roossy90
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/30 23:46:33 (permalink)
    Sounds like my lunch for Sunday.. I am out of Vernors anyway.
    I mean what better than an off the wall review?...LOL... This "aint" roadfood.... LMAO @ myself!
    #15
    John A
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/31 07:46:37 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by roossy90

    quote:
    Originally posted by MiamiDon

    Publix fried chicken is worth eating? (who knew?) I hit Publix 4-5 times per week, and it never occured to me to buy the store-fried chicken. I figured it would be soggy or something from sitting around.

    Now I have to try some. I wonder what time they start making it.
    I want a fresh batch.

    I smell a review and pics coming up just for the heck of it.


    Tara,

    Do not forget to cut slits in the plastic they cover it with. If you do not let the moisture escape you lose that crispy skin.
    #16
    roossy90
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/08/31 13:11:10 (permalink)
    Well, I didnt read John's reply before I left, but Publix is only 3 minutes away.
    I really hadn't planned on making a review, but I did go get some an hour ago. It was so good, I thought I would show some pics and my thoughts on it.

    It is really good. I opted just to get a couple breasts and one side, as opposed to the dinner. (which is 2 pcs and 2 sides (I think)). I really didnt want a breast and wing.

    It could have had some more seasoning in the batter, but its real crispy, moist, and tasty none-the-less. The woman behind the counter verified that it is a Giles cooker. I could see the big immersion vats in the back.

    Side choices were mashies, corn, collards and black eyed peas.
    I chose the collards. They were pretty boring, and could have been cooked longer. I had to spice it up with some malt vinegar and a few shakes of Mortons Hot Salt. It still needed a good dose of pork fat, though. I could see something that looked like a meat of some sort, but it looked like..Oh, I dont know.. Maybe a tiny piece of crumbled bacon. I picked it out, but it was so small I couldnt tell what in the world it really was.
    Something brown.
    Eh on the collards.

    Thats ok, I was there for the chicken anyway.
    I would def say that for the time spent waiting in the drive thru line or going into a KFC, its a much better bet to go into Publix and get theirs.
    (I am really trying to write this semi-tongue in cheek)
    After, all it is a grocery store, and not Pully Bones back in South Carolina!

    If I really wanted some chicken on the fly, I think the better option would be to go into Publix. But... Nothing beats KFC mashies and cole slaw! So, the tug of war would commence.
    I also think, sogginess is really a moot point, since their holding area for the chicken is similar to KFC.

    Sogginess happens with KFC also. If you dont eat it right away, its gonna get soggy no matter who makes it if you keep it in the containers it goes in.
    As good as it is, it's still mass produced, and I must say, nothing beats good home cooked fried chicken.


    If you squint real hard, you can see the little brown specks in the collards." />












    Totally submitted tongue in cheek
    #17
    John A
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/01 17:33:40 (permalink)
    The local Publix does a very good job with their chicken. We especially like the tenders made into chicken salad. Here again, it's important to vent the moisture and retain the crisp chicken skin while chilling in the refrigerator.
    #18
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/04 19:51:31 (permalink)
    OK, a little more nosing around found this out regarding the chicken strips. In this store, the strips are cooked at 375 degrees at 4 minutes. No conformation if the strips are brined or not or not yet. The breader is the very same breader that's used for chicken pieces. Four minutes for strips at 375 is a lot of time. Predictably the pieces that I bought were very dry and cottony even though they just came out. I don't understand why one store uses 335 and another 375 unless the temps are set empirically. One would imagine with all the same equipment, standardized ingredients, and food handling procedures, there would be little or no variation and times would be standardized.

    This tells us the following:
    To get a golden brown color in the strips that's similar to chicken pieces, a colorant has to be used in the breading. It's not paprika or tumeric providing most of the color. To color equally at both 4 minutes and 15 minutes, only a colorant can provide that.

    For a flour based breader to adhere to both skin and skinless just as well, there's got to be some other binding agent besides an egg wash. Their chicken uses no egg wash or powdered egg, so my bet is on an engineered starch with high absorbancy.

    Strips are held in a steam table under hot lights. All locations here immediately turn out the chicken pieces into boxes and put on a warmed table under hot lights. The chicken doesn't get soggy from the condensation build up even though the box isn't vented. Another reason to suspect an engineered, high absorbancy starch in the breading. I haven't seen any location here turn out the chicken on a standard sorting table with infrared lights or use a holding cabinet like KFC has started doing.

    More to come if there's still any interest.
    #19
    leethebard
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/04 20:07:45 (permalink)
    There is still interest...bring it on!!
    #20
    brittneal
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/04 21:23:47 (permalink)
    That looks exactly like Thriftway(Wynne-Dixie chicked. Also loving it fresh i would wait til they made fresh during lunch hour. The process sounds the same as weel. A chandilier type invervion fryer and the dry hand breading and Oh My Gosh-It has sooo much juice it would squirt on that 1st bite!
    Too bad none are in Dayton. Into KY you have the wynne-dixe stores and up to around Westchester there a few Thriftways.
    britt
    #21
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/04 22:40:56 (permalink)
    Winn Dixie in these parts sells a tasteless and greasy chicken that in no way compares to Publix's. It's either pre-packed in plastic clamshells or sold a la carte from the prepared food steam table where it's often very old and dried out by 5:00pm rush hour. I'm not even sure if the delicatessens here even cook it themselves. If it is, it's behind closed doors in the 4 stores that I frequent and probably only around lunch time. The texture doesn't look like Publix's flaky appearance, rather it looks like a uniform,flat,brown coating.

    Perhaps WD's in other areas buy into the Giles/National/Chester concept. We have no Thriftways around here that I know of so I can't comment.


    dt
    #22
    roossy90
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/04 23:28:01 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by DawnT

    I haven't seen any location here turn out the chicken on a standard sorting table with infrared lights or use a holding cabinet like KFC has started doing.

    More to come if there's still any interest.

    The one by my house, had them in a heated display case with sliding glass doors on top of vented racks. There was nothing bagged or boxed. Strips and pieces were displayed the same way. In fact, I pointed out which pieces I wanted.
    #23
    brittneal
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/04 23:30:27 (permalink)
    Sorry here. Its been sivce 99 since i shopped at a Thriftway. I used to watch for them to put out the new stuff. The deli guy said that they sold so much, they cooked 3 huge batches for lunch hour. the last ones were left till 5 and they put out 1 last bunch for the nite. Fresh it was better than any i remember. Wynn dixie is the parent co. They do operate differently. i never had their chix.
    A new google show Thrift wasy closed and was bought up be kroger and Biggs/
    britt
    #24
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/05 00:51:22 (permalink)
    Wow Tara, none of the ones that I trade with have a holding cabinet. In fact, I can't recall any in Dade that do that I've been to. Pretty much the same everywhere, they just dump into those carry home boxes and put the labled containers under on an open,self service hot tray/lights. They do however continue to make fresh batches in the stores I go to well into the evening, so I guess they do move quite a bit of fried chicken.

    I didn't know about the Thriftway's. I do know that they divested quite a bit after they filed for protection from their creditors a few years back. Never could stand shopping at WD, but have to for some items that I can't find in publix. Amazing the way they operate and stay in business. 4:30-5:00pm rush hour with full parking lots. Only 3 or 4 check out lines active out of 12 to 14 and 1 or 2 of the self service. Lines of shoppers backing up into the isles!
    scanners operational at any given time. Wish we had some other choices besides Publix or WD down here. None of the other chains can compete or survive including Walmart foods.

    #25
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/05 21:39:07 (permalink)
    Ok folks. As promised, here's more on Publix chicken.

    From what I gather from observing the chicken being prepared, it appears that the chicken pieces are marinaded. The chicken strips are not marinaded.

    The marinade is a simple brine @ 12% with calcium phosphate added. The chicken is prepacked in cryovac bags with the marinade and drained before breading. I have never seen it rinsed like KFC does. The chicken comes from the plant in this marinade.

    So what's going on here? First, let's get past the scary sounding chemical; calcium phospate.

    Calcium phospate is this case works like a gentle tenderizer that relaxes the colagen in the meat. Unlike enzymatic tenderizers, it doesn't turn the meat to mush. Publix's chicken is put up in a plant and needs to spend days if not weeks in these bags. If you think this is scary or worry about additives, don't worry. It's much the same as tenderizing meat with buttermilk,milk,or yogurt, but more stable and consistant.

    The saline brine. I don't own a refractometer, so I can't guess what a 12% brine is in terms of table or kosher salt dissolved in water. Considering the amount of time the chicken could be soaking in the brine in the cryovac pre-pack, I would venture to guess that the concentration has to be well below the standard 1 cup kosher(flaked)/1/2 cup of table salt per gallon of water. The brine not only hydrates the chicken for more moisture,it also does contribute a small bit to tenderization.

    I need to make a disclaimer at this point. All of this information is readily provided by Publix's nutritional information and is freely offered to the public with each purchase or from the manager's handbook that provides nutritional information on publix products that's available by customer request.

    Next up, the frying process with Tara's specific approval to continue.


    dt
    #26
    leethebard
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/06 07:18:32 (permalink)
    Thanks for the info..looking forward to hearing their secrets!
    #27
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/06 09:03:10 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by hutt

    I still can't believe you folks are talking good about Publix crappy chicken. Different strokes, I guess.


    You might add, "in your opinion".

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #28
    DawnT
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/09 18:14:55 (permalink)
    I just seen another non-brand brand pop up in the area at a local independent IGA market chain. Apparently Sysco is into this marketing concept too.

    http://www.sysco.com/services/brandables/sunday_skillet.asp
    #29
    wmceaton
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    RE: Publix Fried Chicken 2008/09/13 08:06:13 (permalink)
    Its fried chicken! Have a cup of chamomile & chill out!
    I loved tending bar when I was in college...I would see fist fights break out over topics like Ford v.s. Chevy, Red Sox v.s. Yankees, Stones v.s. Beatles, once over what chinese restaurant was better...but never fried chicken.

    I do have to say that some of the supermarket chains are getting into the fried chicken business. I just had some from the Stop & Shop in Somerset, NJ and I admit it was really good. I don't know if they were operating a semi-franchise or not as I didnt look at the fryers, nor would I know what to look for...but I do know that it was good.
    Dont come down on me since I was pretty much in the uterus of roadfood (NJ) but I relly didnt feel like going out. I had driven all day and just wanted to get something quick & cheap...this fit the bill very well.
    #30
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