Media Spotlight – Menu Innovator® – Life is Better on the Grill!

Finally, Summer is in full swing! The cold snowy, rainy dreary days of winter are long gone! It was a long winter with snow fall setting new records in many parts of our country. Let’s celebrate! What a better way than with barbecue? Barbecue is expression, the essence of real and approachable food. It brings the crazy years of molecular gastronomy back to farm table and comfort.

Barbecue has a new groove going on. We are all used to regional and traditional barbecue with vinegar or mustard based sauces, traditional rubs, and regional preferences of meats. The basic technique of barbecue is still wood smoke. Today restaurants are capitalizing on that and taking the basic concept and smok’in with it! Peach wood, hickory, oak, wine soaked woods, alder, apple, pecan all set the flavor base of barbecue. White oak and cherry are great woods for beef, hickory and apple are for chicken and pork, and alder wood for seafood. Today, wood smoke along with chef created rubs are what are emphasized in barbecue. Instead of slathering meats with sauces, they are served on the side as not to mask the flavor of the meat. The total combination of smoke, rubs and complex sauces, often designed for specific meats, create layers of different flavor depths.

Want a little zap in your sauce? Inspired by the popularity of brown liquors, bourbon in sauces has become a winner. Bourbon brings out the smoky wood flavor in grilled foods. Wings are smoked and glazed with bourbon sriracha sauce at Tamo Bistro and Bar in Boston. Texas Benedict with bourbon barbecue pulled pork, Texas toast, poached egg and hollandaise is served by Chef Michael Ferraro at the Delicatessen in New York.

What about meat? Huge “Flinstonian” cuts of meats are cooked on the grill. Large cuts cooked to crispy, crusty, juicy perfection definitely make an impression. Leaving the fat on and purchasing heritage pork, beef, lamb and poultry is the way to go and larger portions prevent drying out! Popular short ribs are delicious whether slow cooked or grilled. Their high amount of tasty fat keep them juicy whether cooked fast or slow. At Chicago Q American Kobe brisket or pork shoulder is pulled tableside by the chef. It’s served with an appetizer of shrimp and grits, and bruleed macaroni and cheese. Now that’s going for the full dining experience!

Barbecue is more than just a backyard affair with global fusion! Barbecue is the perfect way to combine cuisines to create flavor explosion – Southeast Asia, Mexico and Brazil to name a few. Meats are grilled over open fires, in pits, over charcoal logs from different trees then seasoned with ethnic spices and sauces. At Pok Pok in New York boar collar meat is rubbed with garlic, coriander root, and black pepper: glazed with soy and sugar and grilled over charcoal. It is served with chilled mustard greens and a spicy chili lime garlic sauce. This is just one way that we are seeing the deep roots of grilling, smoking, and slow cooking meats from our favorite cuisines. Barbecue is in tacos, tortas, and flatbreads, layered in sandwiches and piled on grilled hamburgers.

Let’s not forget vegetables when it comes to the grill! As we saw in our last blog, the flavor of fire along with healthy fruits and vegetables is a winning combination. Produce is now a star player on menus and grilling changes their flavor and texture. Charring takes the bitterness out of greens such as cress, chicory, escarole and kale. Salt-brining bitter vegetables before grilling adds flavor without leaves turning to ash. Charred leeks with figs, compressed apples and mustard vinaigrette are served at the Seven Lions in Chicago by Chef Chris Curren. Chef Michael Armstrong at Bodega serves Grilled Kale Taco with onion, squash and mushroom. A dessert fan? Chef Michael serves his strawberry shortcake with grilled strawberries!

Barbecue is fun, expressive and gives a sense of vacation. Vacation – now isn’t that is what summer is really all about?

Eat Well

Culinary Systems Inc

Windermare, Florida 34786


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