Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Popeyes Chicken: The Wicked & The Naked

When I hear Popeyes is coming out with a new promotion, my reaction is the same as hearing that New Belgium Brewing Co. is releasing a new beer or Van Morrison is releasing another album: I want that. I don't need to know any more details; their record is enough.

Hemingway wrote of F. Scott Fitzgerald in A Moveable Feast, a book which you probably are not surprised to learn I enjoy: "If he could write a book as fine as The Great Gatsby I was sure that he could write an even better one."

If Popeyes can make an item as good as their Red Hot Popcorn Chicken or Crawfish Po' Boy, I am sure that they can make a better one.

Popeyes "Wicked Chicken" isn't completely new: it was released last summer, too. But it just didn't interest me. The chicken looked like it would be small, shriveled pieces containing very little meat. Do you remember KFC's popcorn when it initially debuted 20+ years ago? They were basically breaded and fried pieces of chicken skin, with almost no meat to them. (This is not a complaint by the way; at the time I loved them.) That's what Popeyes Wicked Chicken looked like.

But this time around I decided to give it a try. I ordered a combo with fries and a drink for $4.99. It took almost ten minutes to receive, which I'm fine with: so much of their chicken is sitting out under heat lamps, I am more than happy to wait to have my chicken made fresh.

My assumptions about the chicken were incorrect. What else is new? The chicken was delicious and the pieces had plenty of meat on them. Yes, they were formed smaller than chicken tenders usually are, but they still were tender, juicy chunks of white meat chicken.

The chicken comes with a little Tabasco bottle - to make it "Wicked." I don't like the original Tabasco flavor as much as I do some of the others, but it's still great.

I gave some to Elizabeth and that's her applying the sauce. I just wanted to clear that up, in case you thought those were my nails.

The girl behind the counter claimed that they no longer make Delta Sauce. If this is true I will be very disappointed; that was one of my absolute favorite fast food condiments. (Their horseradish sauce is also very good and she claimed they don't have that any more, either.) So I got some "Spicy Honey Mustard," which is also very good.

This Wicked Chicken was great and I would be glad to get it again, even if that just means next year when it presumably will be released again.

There was another reason I chose to visit Popeyes: they have yet another promotion out as well: their "Lousiana Leaux Get Up & Geaux!" menu. Despite having a ridiculous name, the four menu items are advertised as being healthy.

"[They] have a significant reduction in fat, calories, cholesterol and sodium when compared to current menu items," the Popeyes website points out. I got a kick out of this; it reminded me of a lawyer joke I once heard that ended with a punchline like "What he said was true but it told us absolutely nothing."

Yes, the items on the "Leaux" menu are much healthier than most Popeyes items, but considering that pretty much everything on the Popeyes menu is breaded and fried - even the French fries are "cajun battered" - it is not any great accomplishment for Popeyes to make healthier items. All they had to do was take a piece of meat and not batter and fry it.

Still, I decided to try the "Naked Chicken Wrap" - a cheese tortilla wrap with a "Naked Tender," lettuce and pickles. The thing is advertised as containing only 200 calories and 6 grams of fat. I wasn't expecting much. I've had similar wraps at other fast food joints that contained zero flavor and were basically just a flavorless, dense piece of something resembling chicken.

Once again, my expectations were proved incorrect: this was a much more attractive piece of chicken than I expected. It was darkened with spices and actually looked... really good.

And you know what? It was pretty good. It was not great by any means, but for $1.99 and something that is relatively healthy, it was more than adequate. I don't see myself every getting one again - if I want a grilled chicken wrap, I will make it myself - but it was much better than I was expecting.

They also offer a "Naked BBQ Chicken Po' Boy" that is this same chicken on a toasted baguette with BBQ sauce, lettuce and pickles, weighing in at only 340 calories and 7 grams of fat. I would not mind checking that out one of these days.

Hemingway was wrong about Fitzgerald, he was not capable of writing anything better than The Great Gatsby. This is not a shame; no one was capable of that. (Hemingway on his best day could not have dreamed of writing anything as good as the final four paragraphs of Gatsby.)

And I don't think Popeyes is capable of making anything better than their annual crawfish po' boy. But the Wicked Chicken was much better than I expected it to be and the Naked Tender was pretty good, too.


Banana Wonder said...

Elizabeth has some dang nice nails! It almost looks like she is applying finger nail polish to the chicken.

Julien said...

It looks like Church's will be shorted a customer when I next need my chicken fix because I'll be getting some wicked chicken from the Cajun.

I know this next bit may vex you, but I'm going to throw it out there. Though I appreciate both Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, neither would be considered my favorite. I tend to prefer Faulkner. They're all worth a read or two though.

JustinM said...

Anna: Don't give her any ideas now...

Julien: Neither are my favorite either, but I do love A Moveable Feast and The Great Gatsby. None of their other books come close to my liking of those. I was never a big Faulkner fan but I certainly understand why people are and I appreciate his talent.

Julien said...

Unlike most people, at least you gave it a chance, but, since is a blog about food, this isn't too relevant. Back to my nom'n...

JustinM said...

Julien, it's my blog so I make the rules: anything interesting is relevant. You can talk about music, books, sports, the first 8 seasons of Law & Order, cats, favorite kind of breakfast cereal, and a whole bunch of other things. No politics or religion, though.

Unknown said...

I got totally jipped! No Tobasco bottle for me. It was a pretty decent meal, though. Not as good as previous ones, but decent.

JustinM said...

Aw man, that's messed up. But your family is from Lousiana, right? You should keep a bottle of Trappey's in the car!

Anonymous said...

@Jarrett H,,you think you got jipped because they didn't give you a tobasco bottle,,my wife ordered the naked chicken wrap,,all she got was the chicken strip,,wrapped in paper,,nothing else lol,,, too literal in the name maybe lol.Love their crawfish tho.