Heat and meat make sense

Meat and poultry, in general, function as a clean canvas for applying all types of flavors, hot and spicy included. Flavors and seasonings can be added via marinades – injected and tumbled – as well as through rubs, breadings and batters.

Pereg, Clifton, New Jersey, is growing its spicy seasoned bread crumb collection with Thai sweet chili panko crumbs. It joins other crumbs with kick such as Mexican fine bread crumbs and Japanese spicy panko.

Hot and spicy ingredients make sense with many better-for-you prepared foods. The bold kick helps improve the taste and palatability that gets lost when fat and sodium are reduced in meat and poultry products.

Fusion heat flavors are also an easy way to differentiate in the competitive meat and poultry category. This includes fresh, fully cooked and snack items.

Rosina Food Products Inc., Buffalo, New York, is rolling out frozen, fully cooked chef-inspired artisan meatballs, which feature bold flavors such as pineapple chorizo. These pork meatballs combine sweet with heat using serrano chili peppers and pineapple.

Montreal, Canada-based Expresco Foods offers ProSticks, a chicken-on-a-stick refrigerated snack intended for on-the-go consumption. These fully cooked, minimally processed, preservative-free meat skewers feature whole muscle chicken with real grill marks. Inspired by popular street foods, these handmade skewers of meat come in three flavors: chipotle, Mediterranean and sweet sriracha.

Woodland, California-based SunFed Ranch, now offers uncured natural 100 percent grass-fed smoked beef jalapeño hot links. The meat is sourced from domestically raised, 100 percent grass-fed and grass-finished cattle. The sausages are specially formulated to have improved nutrition profiles and they are made with only clean-label, simple ingredients, according to the company.  

“Focusing intently on the needs of shoppers in our category, we created a great-tasting hot dog with the lowest sodium and highest protein in the market,” says Matt Byrne, co-founder and president of SunFed Ranch. “Those health attributes are important to us and our consumers as we curate new clean ingredient product lines that are delicious, convenient and sustainable.”

Another flavorful better-for-you innovation comes from Sandra’s, Milford, Indiana. The company is rolling out retail packages of four flavored chicken drumsticks ready for the grill or oven. The drumsticks start with chicken that is cage-free, raised without antibiotics and fed an all-vegetarian diet, and then get flavored with sweet and spicy, savory herb or pumpkin spice seasonings.

Some processors are responding with heat-and-eat options that bring the taste and look of outdoor cooking inside. Home Market Foods, Norwood, Massachusetts, for example, now offers an extensive line of Cooked Perfect Fired Grilled Chicken. The innovative range of juicy, tender and uniquely bold fully cooked frozen chicken uses a premium cooking process to lock-in flavor for restaurant-quality chicken at home.

Marinated and seasoned with savory spices, the line includes center-of-plate and appetizer solutions, in a variety of convenient cuts (wings, drumsticks, boneless and bone-in thighs, tenders and chunks) and flavors (buffalo ranch, maple sriracha and zesty herbs and spice).

Just like wings carry many flavors beyond buffalo, buffalo wing heat is making its way into other foods and chicken formats. The Original Philly Cheesesteak Co., Philadelphia, for example, now offers frozen golden brown, crispy egg rolls filled with fully cooked chicken slices, mozzarella cheese and spicy buffalo sauce seasoning. The hand-held appetizer is sold frozen and prepared in a deep fryer or oven.

Buffalo is also one of four varieties of new Chicken Creations from StarKist Co., Pittsburgh. This ready-to-eat, fully cooked and seasoned all-white meat chicken comes in 2.6-oz. shelf-stable pouches. This marks the brand’s first foray outside of the seafood space. 

Meat snacks provide an attractive canvas for all types of seasonings, including hot and spicy, as well as heat and sweet. San Bernardino, California-based Country Archer Jerky Co. delivers heat in the company’s new cayenne beef with uncured bacon collagen meat bars. Its turkey jerky now comes in a honey chipotle flavor, which joins other popular beef jerky offerings, including sriracha, sweet jalapeño, mango habanero and crushed red pepper.

Toronto, Canada-based GreenSpace Brands Inc., is rolling out Meatbar, a shelf-stable meat snack in a convenient and familiar bar format. The sriracha variety features grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free pork and nitrate-free bacon.

Mighty Spark Food Co., Minneapolis, is venturing out of the refrigerated and frozen meat cases with a new line of all-natural shelf-stable chicken snack sticks made with whole food ingredients. Two of the six varieties – black bean chipotle and honey jalapeño – provide some kick.

Mighty Spark also offers consumers a number of innovative ready-to-cook spicy meat and poultry products, such as chorizo, which is ground pork blended with ghost peppers and Mexican seasonings. There’s also queso fresco and jalapeño turkey patties; corn, black bean and poblano meat-reduced chicken patties; and sweet heat meat-reduced chicken patties.

The concept of meat-reduced is new for the meat case. These patties are made from a blend of jasmine brown rice and lean chicken and are designed to appeal to those consumers trying to limit their meat intake. The chili peppers contribute flavor to improve the taste of an otherwise bland product.