Chick-fil-A put actual cauliflower on a sandwich — and it’s good

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DENVER — You may rice it, you may pickle it, you may rework it into pizza crust. You may roast it whole and carve it tableside. You may 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 change into a Chick-fil-A sandwich. On Monday, the fast-food chain identified for its rooster, pleasant customer support and anti-LGBTQ stances rolled out the Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich in three check markets: Charleston, S.C.; North Carolina’s Piedmont-Triad area, which incorporates Greensboro and Winston-Salem; and right here, in Denver. Relying on the placement, a cauliflower sandwich prices about $7, in contrast with about $5 for the rooster model.

Going by seems to be alone, the vegetable sandwich is sort of indistinguishable from its poultry counterpart. That’s as a result of the tactic is mainly the identical — substitute the rooster 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, mentioned through 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 have been good in concept, however they’d have put an excessive amount of stress on our restaurant groups.”

Tracy’s staff experimented with complete and chopped greens shaped into patties, too. “However,” mentioned Tracy, “I’ve at all times 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 At the moment 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 mentioned.

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 Jap counterpart, Hardee’s) provides 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 at all times depend on that almost all iconic vegan protein, beans).

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In 2022, McDonald’s briefly offered the McPlant, and Kentucky Fried Hen examined nuggets, each developed with Past Meat. For those who dwell in Britain, you will get your arms on a Creole Purple Bean Sandwich at Popeyes and KFC’s vegan burger, made with a filet from the corporate Quorn.

However an precise vegetable, entrance and middle? Perhaps this iteration will survive the general cooling of alt-meat fever. “For a number of years now, we’ve constantly heard that our friends 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 mentioned.

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

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For those who 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 rooster breast. A number of 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 delicate vegetable inside. It doesn’t, alas, style like rooster; the flavour is cauliflower by means of 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, properly, you’ve been warned.)

Eat the cauliflower facet by facet with a rooster sandwich and also you’ll notice 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 properly, although the breading crumbles off a bit extra simply than with the rooster model. Backside line: For those who like cauliflower, this sandwich is objectively scrumptious.

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

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