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For Immediate Release:

"Food Innovator Brings Creativity to Chicken Cutting"
featured on Lancaster Farming.com

Allen & Renninger LLC

March 14, 2015 - Cochranville, Pennsylvania

 Gene Gagliardi and Ron Allen 

Gene Gagliardi was telling a chef a while ago that he was thinking about inventing some new cuts of chicken.

That was a dumb idea, the chef said. There’s nothing more to be done with chicken.

To Gagliardi, the Chester County-based creator of Steak-umm and popcorn chicken, that sounded like a challenge.

“I went home and came up with three different things ... in a week,” he said.

Soon, Gagliardi had created more than two dozen novel chicken cuts and was thinking about marketing the cuts, which currently cannot be bought anywhere.

To help start that process, he presented many of his patented and patent-pending cuts during a demonstration and tasting Monday at his business, Creativators.

One of Gagliardi’s culinary coups is turning chicken wings into a no-mess treat that could be served at formal events like weddings.

The key with Chick’n Pops and Drumettes, Gagliardi said, is to end up with a little of the bone exposed to use as a handle.

Dumettes are slightly bigger than Chick’n Pops and are designed to stand upright on a serving plate, but both cuts can be eaten in two bites.

“I’m constantly looking for hors d’oeuvres that aren’t pastry-based,” said Aliza Green, a Philadelphia-area chef, consultant and writer who attended the tasting.

Cuteness is a big factor in finger food too, she said.

Buffalo Billy’s is another fun wing cut, so named because it resembles a cowboy in chaps. “Kids love it,” Gagliardi said, and “you’re selling the complete piece.”

To make Shrimp Wings, Gagliardi cut the joints to straighten out the wing and make it easy to dip. In Clipt Wings, he cut the joints so the bones can pull right out.

Gagliardi’s genius is in turning byproducts and low-value cuts into value-added products, said Ron Allen, a meat processing consultant who is working with Gagliardi to market the products.

Naturally, then, Gagliardi has even created a deep-fried cut from the meat of the chicken back, which he called “the most underutilized part” of the chicken.

The back has more meat than the wing, and “you can’t get a cheaper cut than that,” Gagliardi said.

He also made a fancy cut from what he called “the scourge of the chicken world.”

Leaving the bone in, Gagliardi cut off the top inch and a half of a drumstick to make osso buco. Italian for “hollow bone,” osso buco is a specialty cut that can be made from any species of meat, he said, though it usually is associated with veal.

The chicken osso buco was a good size for a buffet line item, Green said.

With the rest of the drumsticks left over from the osso buco, Gagliardi made HalfLegs, which look like larger Drumettes with the meat pushed down to expose the bone for a handle.

Gagliardi might be at his most versatile in cutting thighs, a part of the chicken that he has turned into eight novel cuts.

To make the Thigh Swatter, he deboned the thigh from the hip end and left a squarish piece of meat with the bone sticking up, looking aptly like a fly swatter.

“You can throw that on the grill,” Gagliardi said.

Despite its fun name, the Thigh Swatter actually makes an elegant-looking offering when seasoned with a dry rub.

For the Coscia Divina — “divine thigh” — Gagliardi took the joints off and deboned from the hip end. A couple of steps later, he had a piece of chicken filled with stuffing and wrapped in bacon.

From its frozen state, Coscia Divina takes one hour to bake at 400 degrees F, he said.

Two of Gagliardi’s chicken breast creations are cut to have thin, fingerlike strips on the sides, a style of cut Gagliardi said was inspired by Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion.

One of those, Fing’r Pick’n Chick’n, is breaded and fried. The raw, finger-cut meat looks like an octopus, but when it is marinated in Old Bay, breaded and fried, it becomes — and tastes like — Crabby Chicken.

Crabby Chicken works as a sandwich-size portion or as a standalone entree, Gagliardi said.

Gagliardi has also created a chicken burger. The secret is to use minced, not ground, meat, he said.

When poultry is ground, it turns into an undesirable paste. When the meat is cut, it keeps its muscle characteristics. “It has texture. It has bite,” he said.

Gagliardi’s chicken chips are 100 percent chicken and are cured like bacon. They taste like bacon, too. Perdue and Herr’s are looking at the chips, Gagliardi said.

His patented Griller is designed to eliminate grilled chicken that is done outside but raw inside.

Gagliardi cut off the tips that will burn anyway and took out the backbone, keel bone and excess fat.

Perhaps most importantly, he loosened the hip joint and split the breast open. “It flattens it out” to allow even cooking, Gagliardi said.

Cutting meat, at least in the way Gagliardi practices it, is “a lost art,” Allen, the consultant, said.

It’s an art that Gagliardi got an early start in.

His father owned a meat market in Philadelphia and would cut muscles from the meat for his son to identify. Gagliardi said he later learned chicken cutting from Colonel Harland Sanders, the KFC founder.

Gagliardi demurred when asked how he comes up with so many different products, saying only that he is constantly coming up with ideas.

Once, Gagliardi was serving at a tasting and the product was getting a lukewarm reception. He remembered he had two bags of quarter-inch thigh strips that were left over from making another cut.

He sent a helper to the kitchen to marinate, batter and bread the strips. “They ate the whole bag,” Gagliardi said of the taste testers.

Though KFC makes the product differently today, “that was the beginning of popcorn chicken,” he said.

Gagliardi and his team are still working on ways to market his new products. Gagliardi said he hopes to start small, making all the cuts at his business until he can gauge market interest.

“To me, these are all finger foods. These are bar foods,” Allen said, pointing out products like Crabby Chicken and the wing cuts. Other selections, like Drumettes, might be better suited to catering events.

“The sleeper is HalfLegs,” and making them would also create osso buco, Gagliardi said.

He said he has offered HalfLegs to Church’s Chicken, a Southern fast-food chain.

Given the intricacy of some of the cuts, “the product itself is somewhat labor-intensive,” and the company will focus on just a few products at first, Allen said.

No matter which cuts he chooses to market, Gagliardi will likely not be limited by his imagination.

Allen & Renninger, LLC is an exclusive advisor to privately-owned business owners, specializing in the Meat Processing Business.

For further information contact Ron Allen at 484-202-8072 or visit their website at www.allenrenninger.com.

 
 


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