MEAT+POULTRY: What’s driving innovation in hot and spicy flavors?
|Jacquelyn Schuh, market research specialist for meat|
M+P: Do consumers understand that’s there are peppers beyond chipotle and jalapeno?
Schuh: Most of America has tried all the “mainstream” peppers so they’re interested in ways to branch out. Interest in peppers and chile varieties has exploded in recent years with more consumers than ever tracking their personal spice level – whether huge on spice or not – on the Scoville scale. So yes, Americans accept and actively welcome a love affair with heat That’s where we come in. We assist formulators with branching out beyond the peppers confined to our US borders. Peppers are worldly and regional, and Millennials, Gen Z and others alike are willing to try new varieties for the daring, adventurous factor and social capital they build to brag to their friends. Consumers are gravitating towards trying different varietals on menus, tailoring spice to their liking and for no reason other than to find their next “sriracha.”
M+P: Do heat and meat make sense?
|Megan McGough, senior research and development scientist for meat|
Schuh: According to a 2016 Mintel study, when it comes to trying new international cuisine, consumers are most interested in trying that cuisine’s meat-based dishes, followed by appetizers and side dishes. This bodes well for why the peppers and heat associated with authentic Middle Eastern and Peruvian meat dishes are on the rise on menus and retail products. For example, Halal Guys, a New York-based quick-service chain serves a mix of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare and is well known for their combo platter and hot sauce. Their hot sauce has made even the daredevil of heat cry out in pain. Their platters are typically finished with a heavy dose of their infamous white sauce and a small amount (it’s really hot) of their red sauce. The red sauce is nothing to joke about with a Scoville rating of 100,000 to 130,000 units. The ingredient deck states the reason for the heat in the red sauce is simply ground red pepper; although there must be some secret to that heat level. Whether the recipe is under wraps or truly is just a ground red pepper to heat the famous combo platters, Halal Guys has helped spread awareness and respect throughout America, putting Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisines on the map when it comes to heat.
M+P: What are some of the best ways to provide heat and spice to meat and poultry?
|John Kauffman, director of meat systems, flavors and coatings|
|Michelle Wetzel, research development and applications director for meat|
M+P: Any insight into what’s “hot” in peppers?
|Danny Bruns, director of culinary innovation|
Schuh: According to Datassential, the fastest-growing pepper on menus in the past four years is the Aleppo pepper. This pepper is named after Aleppo, Syria, and is used to spice Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It is featured on a variety of menus in kebabs, chicken and seafood applications and in retail currently is used in tapenades, cheeses and other antipasto dishes. At the heart of many Peruvian dishes lies the aji amarillo pepper, which provides a yellow-orange color and a pop of flavor. Another growing Peruvian pepper is the rocoto pepper, which is from the Andes region of Peru and will be making waves here in America in both retail and foodservice applications shortly.
M+P: How does heat fit in with meat snacks?
Schuh: As we see meat snacks grow year-over-year, I think we’ll start to adventure out and try the meat snacks of our favorite exotic cuisines. Peruvian flavors today appeal most strongly to Gen X and Gen Z, according to Datassential. We believe Americans of all ages are interested in snacking on one of Peru’s meat snacks with a kick. There’s a popular beef meat snack called anticuchos, which is a spicy kebab dipped in a yellow chile sauce and is a snack eaten by all classes and generations at any part of the day. I’m looking forward to seeing a US meat processor mimic the flavor profile coming from these spicy anticuchos found on every street corner in Peru.
M+P: What are some innovative hot and spicy meats you’ve seen recently in the marketplace?
Schuh: Torst, a Danish bar in Brooklyn, serves a really simple yet innovative bar snack. It’s crispy fried chicken skins served side by side with pickles and a squeeze bottle of hot sauce. This fun appetizer fits nicely into sustainability trends, specifically towards eliminating food waste and making all parts of the animal shine; also known as the nose-to-tail movement. The bar snack utilizes a familiar part of the bird in this crunchy, savory and spicy snack that pairs perfectly with a beer. What does this mean for the future? Perhaps we might see crispy, fried chicken skin take off as a snack in retail the way we saw meat companies launching chicharrones this year.
Another innovation is ‘nduja, which is a spicy, spreadable pork salumi from Italy. According to Mintel, many new retail products introduced in the last year described as “spicy” were Calabrese-style salami or sausages. ‘Nduja has been something seen for a few years now in specialty stores and high-end tasting menus, but we are now seeing it used in new applications. Roberta’s in Brooklyn and many others are serving a ‘nduja vinaigrette. Monteverde in Chicago mixes ‘nduja sausage into risotto, which is used in their ‘nduja arancini. What does this mean for the future? The acceptance and increased usage of this spicy meat product leads me to believe that we will see more charcuterie board favorites make their way into enticing meat spreads and meat-based dips in both retail and foodservice. Think charcuterie board reimagined into spreads and dips as a spicy substitute for more traditional offerings.