Mind if we smoke? That seems to be the question many chefs are asking of diners, and the answer is a resounding “please do!” Smoked flavors are traditionally American – think barbeque and bacon, for example – but what’s changing these days are the places those flavors are being incorporated and the “volume” at which they’re playing. Diners are relishing dishes in which smokiness levels are predominating, not just serving as background notes.
“The acceptance of smoked flavors goes hand-in-hand with a wider consumer acceptance of bitter flavors,” says Maeve Webster, President of Menu Matters, a consultancy that helps food manufacturers and foodservice operators analyze, understand and leverage trends. “It’s even led to the acceptance of dishes that are deliberately charred and burnt.”
The trend toward smokiness extends to beverages, with perhaps the most notable example being the “Bitter” cocktail at Aviary, the bar space for Grant Achatz’s next restaurant in Chicago. The drink involves overturning a tumbler onto a smoldering coaster made from a bourbon barrel stave, then serving a cognac-brandy concoction in the “smoked” glass. Even Starbucks is getting in on the smoked drink act, recently releasing a Smoked Butterscotch Latte, which it describes as “espresso with steamed milk and smoked butterscotch sauce, finished with a sprinkling of smoky butterscotch topping.”
Smoke your condiments
“Condiments are a great way of applying smoke, because they’re a quick method of adding flavor without a lot of additional prep,” Webster says. “Of course smoke flavoring is traditionally included in barbeque sauces, but it’s also great to add it in unexpected ways, such as to aioli or salad dressings. A smoked balsamic vinaigrette with honey is just fantastic.” If you’d like a quick and easy way to add a touch of smokiness to your menu, use Marzetti® Smoky Honey Chile Sauce to strike a smoky note for dipping, stirring, glazing and drizzling.
Use Marzetti® Smoky Chile Honey Sauce to create exciting new menu items:
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