Behind the Product: Chook Chicken Salt358
with Molly Martin
Savory Spice Team
After releasing Chicharron Salt in August 2017, we started getting customer requests for a seasoning that's massively popular in Australia but far less known in the United States: chicken salt. Then, a longtime friend of Savory Spice - who also happens to be a James Beard award-winning chef, also came to us about this seasoning from down under. So how did Chook Chicken Salt finally reach the shelves of our shops?
Let’s back up a bit.
An hour and a half outside of Denver near Larkspur, Colorado, there is a small farm with a red barn, a llama named Tina, and a dozen or so very happy pigs bathing in mud. This is Fruition Farms, the place where Alex Seidel—aka the 2018 James Beard award winner for Best Chef: Southwest—grows tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, berries, and much more for his two eateries, Fruition Restaurant and Mercantile Dining & Provisions. The farm is also home to a creamery where he makes award-winning cheeses.
Seidel is a cook who cares about ingredients above all. “I think it’s really important for chefs to understand how food is produced, where it comes from, utilizing the whole plants...I think that has made me a better chef,” Seidel said on a recent sunny summer day at the farm. So when he and his partners, Adam Schlegel (co-founder of the very popular Snooze restaurants) and Randy Layman (cocktail master extraordinaire) teamed up on a new venture, sourcing the highest quality ingredients was the focus.
After the trio took a research trip to Australia, they came back inspired by the country’s love of “chook” (aka rotisserie chicken) joints. Their new venture, Chook Charcoal Chicken, is expected to open in Denver in late 2018. And while the chicken itself is at the forefront, there was another Australian favorite they knew they wanted to recreate at their restaurant. “One of the things I really enjoyed seeing on their potatoes down there was this chicken salt. I wanted to create a variation with chicken skin, that I thought was a little bit unique. So that’s really what started that whole snowball,” Seidel explained.
So Seidel came to Savory Spice. “It was about 4 years ago that we really started our relationship with Savory,” he said, “...which just opened my eyes to the quality of spices [Savory] works with on such a broad spectrum. When I wanted to create something that I knew I didn’t have the tools or expertise for, I went to [Savory Spice co-founder] Mike and it was a really great brainstorm process as far as thinking about the origin of this spice and playing with different spices to make sure it hit exactly the right notes.”
After several sessions in the Test Kitchen and 20+ variations of chicken salt were tasted, one of Mike's recipes finally hit just the right “craveability” factor Seidel was after and the official Chook Chicken Salt was born.
“It’s got a really nice balance of fattiness in the chicken skins itself…[it] has a little bit of curry notes which throws a bit of uniqueness into it, and there’s also an umami finish—this richness from the chanterelle mushroom powder that I really enjoy,” Seidel says of the flavor. At Chook Charcoal Chicken, they’ll be using the salt on roasted potatoes, street corn in the summer, and the chicken itself. For the home cook, Seidel recommends trying it in a marinade for chicken and white fish.
We’ve spent plenty of time playing with Chook Chicken Salt here at the Savory Test Kitchen too. Besides sprinkling it on veggies, fried food, eggs, and guacamole, we’ve developed several fun recipes like crispy Chook-Peas for snacking, Chook'n Cornmeal Waffles, and Chook Scalloped Potatoes.
We hope our version of Chook Chicken Salt becomes as popular here in the U.S. as it is in Australia. So give it a try, and if you’re in the Denver area, be sure to check out the new Chook Charcoal Chicken restaurant once it opens for a taste of Seidel’s farm-fresh eats.
Have your ever heard of chicken salt? Are you excited to give this version a try? Let us know - email us at [email protected].