KANSAS CITY — While one of America’s favorite summer pastimes has long been gathering around the patio grill, there seems to be less time to do the gathering. Such flavorful shortcuts as rubs and sauces may deliver authentic, as well as unique tastes to grilled foods without the hassle of overnight marinades or lengthy smoking.
Condiment manufacturers recognize the opportunity, and retail shelf space dedicated to flavorful grilling tools continues to grow. Many of the new rubs and barbecue sauces being introduced in 2016 are being inspired by ethnic flavor profiles, in particular, spices and hot peppers indigenous to Southeast Asia and the Pacific island regions.
|Kevan Vetter, executive chef for McCormick|
“The summer of 2016 will be all about incorporating smoky, spicy, tangy flavors in new ways we’ve never seen before,” said Kevan Vetter, executive chef for McCormick & Co., Inc.
Southeast Asian cuisines are driving food and condiment innovation, according to the 2016 Flavor Forecast from McCormick. The company’s research indicates that the flavors and techniques that will be firing up grills and inspiring backyard bashes include bold Brazilian sauces, brazen burger rubs and elevated Japanese marinades.
“Since its inception in 2000, (the Flavor Forecast has) been tracking the growing interest in heat and identifying upcoming spicy flavors, including chipotle, peri-peri and harissa,” Mr. Vetter said. “Our latest report shows the next wave of this trend is complemented by tang. Look for Southeast Asian sambal sauce powered by chilies, rice vinegar and garlic to take kitchens by storm."
In response to the findings, the company’s retail division is launching an array of new, spicy, globally inspired grilling aids. This includes Grill Mates Single Use Marinades, a line of 30-minute liquid marinades that come in 5-oz tear-and-pour pouches. Ethnic flavors include Japanese 7 Spice Teriyaki, Brazilian Steakhouse, Hot Pepper Blackened and Mojo Criollo. McCormick also offers varieties from closer to home, such as Smoky Applewood and Montreal Steak.
King’s Hawaiian, based in Torrance, Calif., has decided to venture beyond the bread aisle with a new line of four Hawaiian-inspired barbecue sauces. Original Sweet Pineapple pairs tangy barbecue zest and sweet pineapple. Smoked Bacon is made with chunks of rich, smoky bacon in a tangy sweet sauce. Big Island Lava is all about the heat and includes the boldness of red jalapeños, traditional island spices and a hint of sweetness. Kona Coffee is tangy sauce with real Kona coffee, which is said to enhance the natural flavors of barbecued meat.
Lee Kum Kee, based in City of Industry, Calif., is growing its best-selling Sriracha sauce lineup with two new innovations — Sriracha Barbecue and Sriracha Stir-Fry.
“People love the sweet, spicy taste of sriracha, and our new innovations fulfill the demand for tasty, flavor-forward options that demonstrate its versatility,” said Elaine Thai, vice-president of marketing for Lee Kum Kee. “Our newest offerings enhance your favorite proteins and vegetables and provide the perfect balance of bold sriracha flavor when cooking or barbecuing without any need for pre-measuring or blending."
|||READ MORE: American flavors|||
Equally popular to ethnic-infusion barbecue sauces are locally inspired American sauces. In fact, barbecue sauce is one of the original hand-crafted, artisan food categories, and it continues to have a very local presence.
|Dax Schaefer, executive chef for Asenzya|
“In the U.S., the term barbecue means many things to many people,” said Dax Schaefer, executive chef for Asenzya, Inc. “It can be something as simple as a technique, maybe a style of restaurant, or something as complex as a way of life that is handed down over generations. The generally accepted method of American regional barbecue is a technique of slow cooking the meat for a long period of time over very low heat using indigenous hardwood. This traditional method of cooking, when done over an open fire, is also referred to as pit cooking and delivers amazingly tender, moist products with distinctive smoky flavors.”
The flavors of American barbecue continue to evolve. According to an internet survey of 1,768 adult users of sauces, marinades, dressings or dry seasonings by Lightspeed GMI, almost half of respondents said they prefer spicy/hot flavors. Nearly 4 in 10 said they prefer sweet flavors, and a third said they prefer salty flavors. Nearly 4 in 10 said they prefer authentic U.S. regional flavors, with nearly a quarter preferring locally made. Almost the same percentage prefers international/ethnic flavors.
“These results underscore the need for brands to offer a wide variety of flavors, keeping up with trends consumers encounter in other food areas, to meet their demand for interesting tastes,” Mr. Schaefer said.
The Heinz brand is entering the barbecue sauce category with its Heinz BBQ sauce line, a collection of authentic regional sauces made with only 100 percent natural, locally inspired ingredients and recipes. The five sauces were developed in partnership with five of America’s top pit masters.
|Jessica Ryan, director of marketing for Kraft Heinz|
“As interest in barbecue continues to grow across the country, people are becoming more aware that different regions have different styles of sauce, but we know that a lot of consumers are reluctant to try a sauce from a brand they don’t know and trust,” said Jessica Ryan, director of marketing The Kraft Heinz Co.
That’s the inspiration behind the Pittsburgh-based company’s new line, which includes Classic Sweet & Thick BBQ Sauce, a well-rounded, all-American barbecue sauce. But it’s the four regional flavors that Heinz is talking up.
Kansas City Style Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce is said to be the perfect balance of thick, sweet and tangy. Memphis Style Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce, on the other hand, is based on brown sugar and has a rich and sweet taste with a pop of spice.
Texas Style Bold & Spicy BBQ Sauce is all about bold flavor. This sauce captures the best of Texas barbecue, combining spices such as cumin and chili powder with just the right kick.
Real Carolina barbecue plays on the deep-rooted traditions of whole hogs slow cooked over wood coals. For a true Carolina-style sauce, Heinz blends the distinctive tang of apple cider with a bit of sweet and spice to make Carolina Vinegar Style Tangy BBQ Sauce.
When it comes to local, Lamar Jones, a southern-bred inventor and teacher’s aide in the small southeast Texas town of Weslaco, produces The Jank, a line of barbecue sauce inspired by years of family cookouts. Slow-cooked and simmered for about eight hours before being bottled, Mr. Jones’ special recipe was commercialized after winning an inventor grant. He now produces the sauces at a new commercial rental kitchen in the city’s downtown district and sells them throughout Texas.
All-N-Food L.L.C., based in Belleville, Ill., creates wing and barbecue sauces infused with Yuengling brand beer. The company recently added a version infused with bacon.
“My passion is layering bold, complex flavors and textures, and I’d been intrigued for a long time by bringing together bacon and beer — two of America’s favorites — in a barbecue sauce,” said Brent Wertz, vice-president of culinary and product innovation for All-N-Food. “The mouthwatering result is a smokin’ little slice of heaven bursting with zing on the end of your fork, or if savored properly … dripping from your fingertips.”
Dry rubs continue to get more dynamic. The Yuengling brand has a line that includes barbecue, brown sugar barbecue, Jerk and smoked sea salt varieties. And Grill Mates is building on the regional taste trend with rubs in flavors such as Memphis Pit and Tennessee Smokehouse.
Morton Salt, Inc., Chicago, is expanding beyond table salt with a sea salt rub line in varieties such as cracked pepper and herb, Italian roasted garlic and Southwest BBQ.
KC Masterpiece, a barbecue sauce brand of the Clorox Co. based in Oakland, Calif., also is entering the dry rub category. The new line, which may be hydrated with water or other liquids to create a customized sauce, comes in Original BBQ, spicy habanero and sweet honey varieties.
“The technique of barbecue may be one of the oldest cooking styles in the world, but Americans have made a distinctly unique version to call its own,” Mr. Schaefer said. “The spiciness and new feel of many of the different sauces and rubs will attract the millennials just as the well-balanced flavor profiles will appeal to the baby boomers.”
|||READ MORE: Smoky flavor tops the charts|||
Smoky flavor tops the charts
Culinary professionals have spoken. Smoking is one of the top three hottest cooking methods among chefs today, only outranked by pickling and fermenting, according to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot 2016 Culinary Forecast” report. This presents an opportunity for meat and poultry processors to develop added value “smoky” prepared proteins.
“Barbecuing and smoking of meat continues to gain popularity among culinary professionals and home cooks,” said Mark Crass, general manager and vice-president of sales and marketing for Red Arrow Products. “The challenge is that these processes take time and are not readily duplicated. Consumers like consistency.”
Red Arrow works with chefs and product developers to educate them on how including condensed smokes and savory cooking method flavors may improve efficiencies and provide cost savings. These natural ingredients deliver consistent flavor and enhance the protein’s inherent flavors, all while offering the ability to create customized, signature flavor profiles.
|Chef David Salm, co-owner of Al Corso Restaurant|
Chef David Salm, co-owner of Al Corso Restaurant in Collins, Wisc., said, “Red Arrow’s products allow me to very precisely enhance flavors, to provide consistent results and to work faster.”
Mr. Salm has represented Red Arrow’s Legends of Smoke team in various cook-offs and is also a certified judge for barbecue competitions.
In addition to smoke, grilled foods increasingly are being embraced by consumers. Grilled is the most popular cooking method in food service, according to Datassential, and it is featured on the menu of 80% of all U.S. restaurants.
The best outdoor grill flavors are designed to simulate the flavors that develop when juices from the food drip down onto the hot coals or wood.
“Our flavors provide that same profile without the grill or cooking pit,” Mr. Crass said.
|||READ MORE: Seven sizzlin' new products|||
Seven sizzlin’ new products
1. Morton’s Southwest BBQ Sea Salt Rub
2. McCormick Grill Mates Vintage Smokehouse with Honey BBQ Sauce and Slow & Low Smokin’ Texas BBQ Rub
3. King’s Hawaiian BBQ Sauces (Light Roasted Kona Coffee, Smoked Bacon, Original Sweet Pineapple, Big Island Lava)
4. Lee Kum Kee – Hong Kong Sriracha Barbecue Sauce
5. Slim Jim Hot Sauce, Sweet & Spicy and Original Barbecue Sauce and Wing Sauce
6. The Jank Gourmet BBQ Sauce from Weslaco, Texas
7. Heinz Pitmaster Partners Kansas City Style Sweet & Smoky BBQ Sauce