Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl Nissen: Southern-style chicken passes taste test

Tegel Southern Style Nibbles. Photo / Supplied
Tegel Southern Style Nibbles. Photo / Supplied

I recently spent some time in Nashville, Tennessee where I discovered that my husband had a bit of an obsession with Southern fried chicken.

We've been together 22 years and I had no idea this was the case until we hit the deep South.

He ate it every day and in one extreme case travelled miles out of town to have the chicken made by Prince's Hot Chicken Shack which is at the top of the tables when it comes to fried chicken worldwide.

So when I got home and found these in my supermarket freezer I thought I'd put them to the test of his by now very attuned taste buds and see if Tegel's Southern style chicken could match the real thing.

Tegel Southern Style Nibbles. $8.79 for 700g.

Ingredients (greatest quantity first):

Chicken (68%)

The chicken used in these nibbles is cage free, raised in New Zealand and has no added hormones.

Which means they are barn farmed.

According to Tegel the chickens are raised in "large, modern, well-equipped barns. They are free to move around, and have ready access to food and water. These barns are carefully monitored to ensure our chickens are well looked after."

SAFE says barn-raised chickens have limited space with seven birds per square metre.

Water

Flour (wheat, maize)

This will be the flour used in the coating of the chicken nibbles. The flour is made up of wheat and corn.

Sunflower oil

This is oil made from sunflower seeds and is a healthy oil because most of the fat is unsaturated and it is full of good nutrients.

Wheat gluten

Gluten is a protein found in wheat which some people are allergic to.

Hydrolysed vegetable protein (soy)

This is a common filler in processed foods but will be used in the coating of the chicken nibbles. In this case it is derived from soybeans.

Egg powder

This is dehydrated egg.

Salt

This is quite a high salt product. Per 150g serve you will get 651mg of sodium.

Modified starch (1404)

This is oxified starch, which means it is a starch oxidised with sodium hypochlorite.

Spices

Possibly taking a leaf out of the book of Colonel Sanders, who has never revealed the 11 herbs and spices used in KFC, Tegel doesn't list which herbs and spices are used to make this chicken taste Southern.

Herbs

Milk solids

This is the solids left after milk is dehydrated.

Mineral salts (450, 451)

These are both diphosphates which are salts of phosphoric acid.

Raising agents (500, 541)

These are sodium bicarbonate or baking soda (500) and sodium aluminium phosphate (541).

Thickeners (412,415)

Guar gum (412) and xanthan gum (415) are both natural gums.

Maltodextrin

You're unlikely not to see this ingredient in processed foods these days.

It is a white powder made from a starch which is cooked, then acids or enzymes are added to break it down.

The result is a white powder which is water-soluble and has a neutral taste. It can be used as a thickener, a filler and a preservative in processed foods

Dextrose

This is a form of glucose taken from starch.

Flavour enhancer (635)

No MSG in here but instead we have disodium 5'-ribonucleotide.

Spice extract (160c)

This is paprika.

Highlights

• Uses cage-free chicken which means they are raised in barns.
• No MSG.
• 68 per cent chicken.

My recommendation:

The good news is that my fried chicken aficionado pronounced these as very acceptable indeed.

In fact, when he's finished his self-imposed fried chicken reduction method, which necessitates weaning himself off in the interests of good health, he's going to eat them again.

He did say they are quite spicy so maybe not great for children if they don't like it hot.

As far as the product itself goes - barn raised or cage-free chicken is better then caged chicken but still not as ideal as free range, but that is your choice.

And all the additives are focused on the coating which needs some help to stay on the chicken while frozen and then cooked, as well as the spices to make it taste good.

- NZ Herald

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