With the rising popularity of foods such as Nashville hot chicken and Sriracha everything, it’s safe to say that consumers love bold, spicy flavors. But how can operators appeal to diners who like bold flavor but don’t like too much heat? Smoky flavors, such as adobo, fire-roasted tomatoes and peppers, poblano and chipotle, are the perfect match.
Beyond barbecue, smoky flavors are perfect for dishes across the menu, from appetizers to entrees to soups. Check out three ways that operators can add bolder, smokier flavors to their menus without having to smoke, char or fire-roast ingredients, which can be very time-consuming and labor cost-prohibitive.
For operators looking to up the smoke factor without making their staff learn a whole new menu, a convenient option is adding a smoky sauce option to an existing dish. For instance, chipotle mayo is the fastest-growing condiment on menus today, showing an increase of 43% on menus year-over-year, according to Technomic’s 2017 Burger report. This versatile sauce can be added to burgers or sandwiches for a quick and easy smoky twist.
Likewise, with the addition of smoky adobo sauce or chipotle peppers, comfort classic mac and cheese becomes even more drool-worthy. Meat or poultry dishes can also benefit from a variety of smoky options: slow-braised beef can be served with a rich smoked paprika sauce, and a basic baked chicken loses its basic-ness when it’s topped off with a fire-roasted red pepper sauce and smoked gouda.
According to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report, consumers are clamoring bold, spicy, smoked and hickory flavors. Diners want to see more smoked food on menus, and for operators, the opportunity is big—adapt savory meat dishes to include a smoky element, or send veggies into the fire for a charred, roasted flavor that’s irreplaceable and endlessly craveable.
Savory meat dishes
Smoky flavors are popular across several proteins—according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Beef & Pork report, 60% of consumers say they’d be likely to order smoky beef dishes, and 60% said the same about pork dishes. Additionally, the most preferred glaze for chicken is barbecue, with 63% of consumers saying they prefer it, according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Poultry report. In terms of sandwiches, 47% of consumers say their favorite kind of sliced turkey is smoked.
In short, smokiness is in high demand, and perhaps that’s because smoked meats are highly craveable. Dishes with bold flavors such as smoked pulled pork sliders with crisp and creamy coleslaw or a burger topped with fire-roasted poblano salsa and queso fresco are flavorful options that feature a smoky taste without being too spicy.
On the poultry side, smoked barbecue chicken wings are the perfect alternative to fiery buffalo wings, and fire-roasted hatch chilies can be added to smoked turkey chili for a double dose of deliciousness.
Flavorful lighter fare
Smoky flavors aren’t just popular in meat dishes, either—for those who don’t eat meat or are looking for something a little lighter, there are still plenty of options. This is welcome news for the 43% of consumers who say they’d be likely to order smoky fish dishes if they were on the menu, and the 45% who say the same about vegetarian/vegan dishes, according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report.
For instance, fire-roasted street corn salad, or esquites (elotes if it’s still on the cob) topped with ancho chile powder instead of cayenne is the perfect side dish for quesadillas with fire-roasted zucchini, bell pepper and mushrooms, and both dishes offer a meat-free, full-flavored foray into the world of smoked foods. For earlier in the day, smoked salmon on a bagel with cream cheese, sliced red onion and capers is a brunch classic.
This post is sponsored by Minor’s®