American palates crave bold flavors—salty, spicy, eye-watering—in everything from appetizers to sauces. Here are three trends you may want to watch for and indulge in.
Everything goes better with bacon, right? Not so, say the culinary pundits. It’s time to expand into other pork offerings, even perhaps some you’ve never heard of. For instance, there’s ‘ndjua, a bold Calabrian spreadable sausage made from parts of the pig you may not want to know about. Consumers are also asking for more fried ears, more cheeks, more guanciale, a cured product made from cheeks. On the more traditional side, there’s a call for more pancetta. You’ll find these pork products gracing pasta, heaped onto pork chops, and incorporated into sauces and vinaigrettes for pops of flavor.
Beer has traditionally been an ingredient that infuses flavor into batter and sauces. But what about the drink itself? Now from south of the border comes a beer-based drink, Micheladas, or cerveza preparada, infused with incredible boldness of sauce and spice. Like Bloody Mary mix? Add it to beer. Add clamato juice or soy sauce. Even hot sauce. Some of the country’s leading chefs are driving innovations here, such as adding chipotle tomato juice, beef broth, and tequila. The list of possibilities is endless.
Salsa overtook ketchup and now hummus overtakes salsa. Even the Subway sandwich chain is experimenting with this chick-pea, no-meat option. This Middle Eastern staple is high in protein and fiber, but low fat, and therefore meets a lot of dietary needs. About 20 percent of American households have hummus in the refrigerator, thanks largely to the pioneering efforts of the Sabra brand (co-owned by Pepsi). Variations abound, including beet, pumpkin, Thai chili, guacamole, edamame, lemongrass chili, spinach artichoke, cilantro chimichurri, lentils, white beans, roasted sesame tahini, seaweed and shiso. Hummus, used as a spread or a dip, may well be on the path to overtake other condiments, like mayonnaise. Some leading restaurants are serving hummus topped by meat proteins, including lamb, beef cheeks, tandoori chicken, or chicken liver. And don’t be surprised if you find hummus on pizza. Restauranteurs are creating Moroccan, Oriental like Thai and Japanese, and Mexican flavors using chick-pea based hummus. Bold and spicy or mild, hummus can add texture to any dish.