An office park in New Brighton, Minnesota is probably the last place one might suspect as home to some of the best fried chicken around. But only does Annie’s Deli serve up their own crispy version of this picnic favorite, the company who owns the deli is also responsible for the breading for fried chicken found in many of our favorite grocers around the Twin Cities.
Annie’s Deli is the test kitchen for P.H.T. Systems, a wholesale distributor for food service equipment whose niche is the retail grocer market. Their main line of equipment is the Henny Penny fryers, hot cases, and rotisseries that they sell throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and half of Montana. P.H.T. Systems was founded in 1981 by Jim Rimarcik as a family-owned company comprising himself, his wife, and his daughter Anne, who is the company’s current president (pictured at bottom).
From the beginning, part of the P.H.T. Systems business model was running a test kitchen, which allows their retail clients to come in for demonstrations and training opportunities. In 1986, Rimarcik’s wife Sue suggested that they use the test kitchen to prepare deli food for sale during weekday lunch hours. Soon after, Annie’s Deli was born.
The Annie’s Deli menu consists of a selection of prepared sandwiches, cold salads, and hot food including a daily entree special and soups. Deli items are prepared using the equipment they sell (mainly an oven and fryer), so it’s no surprise that their specialty is their fried chicken and thick-cut, breaded jo-jo potatoes.
The Secret is in the Breading
The fried chicken found at Annie’s Deli is crisp-skinned and lacks the signature greasiness found in many other versions. The key to their chicken is using fresh meat and preparing it simply with one coat of breading. After a short resting period to allow the breading to fully adhere to the skin, the chicken is fried in a Henny Penny pressure fryer. Their signature jo-jo potatoes are treated similarly, cut in-house from real Idaho potatoes, coated with breading, and then fried. Biting into Annie’s jo-jo potatoes, you’re met with a toothsome resistance and distinct potato flavor that only fresh ingredients can provide.
The breading used at Annie’s Deli is P.H.T. Systems’ own Red Label breading; varieties of this breading are used in many delis around town. Additionally, P.H.T. Systems provides breading to Lunds / Byerly’s, Kowalski’s, and many other grocer delis, each of whose recipes are proprietary. To make their fried chicken, these grocer delis use P.H.T’s blend of breading, then customize their process by using a dry breading process (similar to Annie’s), a wet dip, or even a double breading process to create an extra crispy finish.
Best Bet: Try Annie’s fried chicken dinners, which include two sides and roll — 2-piece dinner ($6), 3-piece dinner ($6.50), or 4-piece dinner ($7.50).
Rush Lake Business Park
1801 Old Highway 8 NW
New Brighton, MN 55112
Regular hours may be assumed, but there may be days when the deli is not open for lunch, as the kitchen is being used for P.H.T. Systems grocer customers. Hours and daily specials can be obtained by calling the deli directly.