Yesterday, we taste-tested KFC's highly-touted "bone-free" original recipe chicken. KFC has billed its boneless chicken as "a contemporary product for the new consumer" — which apparently translates to less food for the same amount of money.
Described as a "dramatic shift" in KFC’s flagship 45-year old product, Original Recipe Boneless chicken retains the same 11 secret herbs and spices, but with all bones removed.
"With more of our Australian customers now opting for chicken ‘off the bone’, the introduction of Original Recipe Boneless is the next step in our ongoing journey to modernise our menu and meet changing consumer needs," KFC Australia’s chief marketing officer Valerie Kubizniak said in a statement.
"Original Recipe Boneless gives our customers the flexibility to enjoy KFC without the messiness of the bones, packed with the same great taste people know and love."
The KFC Boneless Box comes with three pieces of boneless chicken, a small chips, soft drink, bread roll and potato and gravy for $10.95.
This puts it at the same price-point as a traditional three-piece feed which also comes with a small chips, soft drink, bread roll and potato and gravy.
The first thing you notice when opening the box is how meager the meal looks — each piece is around the size of 2.5 chicken nuggets which makes for pretty light fare. It almost feels like you're eating something from the snack menu despite paying full price (especially if you toss the potato and gravy straight in the bin like I do.)
Granted, part of this is a physiological illusion due to the removal of bulky bones, but that doesn't explain why I felt significantly less satisfied after eating the meal. It almost seems as if KFC sneakily stripped some of meat away during the de-boning process. Hmm.
My suspicion is somewhat backed up by the meal's energy content. According to KFC's nutritional info, each piece of boneless chicken contains 527 kilojoules, while a boned piece of original recipe comes in at 658kJ.
Admittedly, other factors could have contributed to this kilojoule anomaly, such as the cooking duration and the inclusion of skin. However, there's no arguing with what my tummy tells me and I definitely felt less full after eating the Boneless Box when compared to a regular three-piece feed. It would need to be priced at around the $7 mark to be considered good value for money.
So we've established that the Boneless Box is overpriced, but what does it actually taste like? After all, a delectable chicken meal is usually worth paying a premium for. Unfortunately, we didn't think the boneless chicken pieces were anything special. Our meal came with one piece of breast and two pieces of thigh fillet (boneless legs and wings aren't offered, which is just as well given how puny the breasts and thighs are).
The breast was as juicy and succulent as you'd expect from KFC. However, the batter seems more dominant than usual which leaves you with floury, slightly unpleasant aftertaste. The thigh pieces, meanwhile, had slightly chewy, greyish flesh. For some reason, this is a lot less appetising when it's not attached to a bone. Perhaps it's because we're used to seeing soft white meat in KFC's nuggets and crispy strips. Frankly, anything other than breast meat doesn't cut it when it comes to boneless, battered chicken.
All in all, the KFC Boneless Box isn't anything you'd want to write home about (presumably to Kentucky). It's pricey, insultingly small and doesn't taste particularly delicious either. If you're keen to try it, we'd recommend picking up a single piece at the introductory price of $2. Bring back the KFC Zinger Pie, we say.