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    McDonald's Hosts Tasting Event

    New summer offerings include grilled chicken and the return of its Asian salad.

    NEW YORK -- Although McDonald's has had a good 2011 so far with the success of its fruit and maple oatmeal and its new frozen strawberry lemonade, the quick service empire isn't content to rest on its laurels. On May 11, the company held a tasting event in New York at which guests could sample several new products, according to a Nation's Restaurant News report.

    The chain's newly formulated grilled chicken will make a double appearance on the menu in the form of McDonald's Premium Chicken Sandwich as well as a topping for the Asian salad. According to Dan Coudreaut, senior director of culinary innovation, the chicken has "a more neutral flavor profile -- mirepoix, salt and pepper, maybe a little garlic and herb." It will be served on a new round whole-grain bun, instead of an oval bun, and topped with cracked wheat.

    The return of the Asian salad, which debuted as part of McDonald's premium salad line in 2006 and was replaced by a Southwest salad in 2008, is welcome news to its group of fans, who have lamented its loss on sites like Facebook and Chowhound. The salad is a blend of salad greens, edamame, snow peas, red bell peppers, mandarin oranges and sliced toasted almonds, topped with grilled chicken and a low-fat sesame-ginger dressing. Coudreaut stated that McDonald's variety of salads lets it "have a library of specials that we can bring back."

    Although Chicken McNuggets are the same tasty hunks of white meat that customers are familiar with, they're getting several new dipping sauces. The ranch sauce has been adjusted to give it "more of a buttermilk flavor" according to Coudreaut. There's also a hot buffalo sauce and a sweet chile sauce, based on a traditional Thai condiment, that first appeared in North America during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada.

    Coudreaut also stated that while the company is examining its salt content, "it's an important tool for chefs to use." He added that he works with company nutritionists to decide what the nutritional profile of menu items should be early in their development, and that the company has started setting nutritional benchmarks for menu items during the last two years.

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