The growing popularity of Mediterranean cuisine, which includes the flavors of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Levant and Syria, is apparent by the number of supermarkets that now offer antipasti, charcuterie and olive bars, foods that are indigenous to this region. Many retailers also offer an overwhelming array of dips, sides and condiments, including hummus, tabbouleh and falfalah. This food trend presents in-store butchers and packaged meat and poultry manufacturers the opportunity to provide meal solutions featuring marinated and seasoned meats for Mediterranean dishes. It also creates an opportunity to serve ready-to-eat Mediterranean meats such as gyros and shawarma on food bars, alongside these other foods.
One such entrée is chicken shawarma, which has become a mainstream street-style food in many urban areas. Shawarma comes from the Turkish word for “turning” because of the way the meat rotates as it cooks. It is a slow-cooking process that involves the addition of distinct seasonings, including black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and turmeric.
Meats can also be seasoned with baharat. This is a staple seasoning in Eastern Mediterranean cooking. It is described as a warm spice blend that includes black pepper, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and paprika.
Cooking sauces and condiments are another way butchers and operators can spice up their offerings. The pepper paste known as harissa is one way to give an ordinary dish a Mediterranean spin. Harissa recipes vary between countries and regions, but a standard version includes a blend of hot chili peppers, which are usually roasted, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and spices, such as caraway, coriander, cumin, coriander and mint.
Robustly flavored olive oils can be designed to include artichokes, citrus, figs, pistachios or sundried tomatoes. These oils function as marinades and toppings, with the latter being an easy way to finish off a dish.
There are so many ways to add a taste of the Mediterranean to meat and poultry. Never forget to include serving suggestions and pairings to take customers on a flavor adventure.