Flores’ L&L boxes chicken for mainland
Never accuse Eddie Flores of thinking small. Not only has he taken the local grinds of his L&L Drive-Inns nationwide, but now he's planning to invade mainland supermarkets with L&L's barbecued chicken.
The chicken will be sold frozen in 2.5-pound boxes, pre-marinated and ready to defrost and cook, Flores said. He's working on the packaging design now, and says the product should be in stores in the Los Angeles area by the end of the year, selling for about $6.
To be certain the product is user-friendly, Flores had his marketing director, Brandon Dela Cruz, cook up a batch. "You gotta have the regular guy who doesn't know how to cook," he said. "You think it's funny, but that's how you test the food, right?"
Zachary Lundin, president of P&C Poultry Distributors in Los Angeles, already supplies L&L Hawaiian Barbecue restaurants on the mainland with pre-marinated chicken. Now he's introducing the frozen product to supermarkets.
"There's a big push right now in the retail arena for pre-marinated meat products and a lot of people recognize L&L immediately," Lundin said.
He expects to expand throughout the West Coast, eventually supplying Hawaii markets as well, then moving east as sales increase. "Eventually it will be a national brand."
Flores said the chicken, which is L&L's top-seller along with Chicken Katsu, is his first supermarket product, but if sales are good he may offer more. "If this works maybe we'll sell the sauce, too."
Despite his plans for the chicken, Flores was willing to share the recipe, in response to a request from Rodney Lee.
His executive chef, Raymond Cheng, says the recipe is 30 years old. The chicken is one of the dishes that helped launch the company, he says. "That's how we came up."
L&L Drive-Inn Barbecued Chicken
4 pounds chicken thigh, deboned, skin on
3 cups soy sauce
8 ounces sugar (1 cup)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Butterfly chicken: After removing the bone, place thigh on cutting board and spread it apart so it lies flat. If necessary, cut through side of the thigh, holding knife parallel to cutting board, slicing almost but not all the way through. Spread the halves apart and flatten.
Combine marinade ingredients and add chicken. Marinate, refrigerated, 4 to 5 hours.
Chicken may be pan-fried, grilled over charcoal or baked at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. (At L&L, the chicken is cooked on the restaurants' griddles.)
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 550 calories, 28 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 155 mg cholesterol, greater than 5,000 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 27 g sugar, 43 g protein.
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