Sponsored article: Operators can celebrate lockdown lifting this summer by welcoming back consumers for some long-overdue socialising with friends and family over delicious food and much-needed drinks. With summer peering around the corner, it's the perfect time to make the most of barbecue season and this year's hot barbecue trends, and let meat take centre stage.
Nothing screams British summer quite like a good old-fashioned barbecue in the sunshine, and with a market currently worth £2b, exploring the smoky and mouth-watering flavours, from tender slow-cooked cuts of meat, smoked joints or pimped out burgers, is a must to entice customers back.
All about Americana
One of the key trends re-emerging this summer is the family favourite Americana. In a recent Bidfood survey (conducted in partnership with CGA April 2021), 33% of consumers were looking forward to American dishes when they can eat out again (compared to 37% seeking out Sunday roasts).
So, what is Americana? It is all about the meat and heat! Think: crunchy fried chicken stacks, slow-cooked beef brisket, tender beef short rib that falls off the bone, crispy burnt ends. And not forgetting familiar favourites like wings, pulled pork and puck burgers, which are all seeing rising popularity.
Although burgers remain a core staple, consumers are searching for authenticity and flavour, with a growing fascination for primal cooking techniques that involve charcoal, embers, smoke and fire. Many more American cuts and meat dishes are coming to the fore in this summer trend, such as a flat brisket. Rubbed or marinated and slowly cooked on an open charcoal barbecue, brisket is both easy to cook and will fall apart beautifully as a perfectly mouth-wateringly tender main. Chopped and seasoned, it will also provide intensely flavoured burnt ends, which you can use to top your own bespoke puck burger or as chunky finger food.
Pork belly or shoulder works in a similar way to create pulled pork. These types of joints have a slightly higher fat content, making for a succulent eat. There are so many ways that this trend can be brought to life in menus, in a variety of sectors.
Let's get stacking
Everybody loves a good, juicy burger, so it's no surprise to see them still reign supreme as the king of barbecue food. Not only are their profit margins healthy, but they are incredibly versatile and easily adapted to suit the broadest of tastes.
One trend to keep front of mind this year is customisation. With consumer demand ever-changing, and one in five dishes on menus now adaptable, customisation continues to be a key trend. Stackable burgers are perfect for incorporating personalisation into menus, providing consumers with a mix and match of flavours and textures. Bringing a ‘stacking station' into the dining area of any establishment is easy to execute. Stacking options are endless, from slow-cooked pulled pork; chilli, blue or even truffle cheese; to burnt ends or bacon. Creating a diverse range of stacking and side options gives the consumer the diversity they are after.
Let's not forget another top barbecue trend worth incorporating on menus: the smash burger, made by quite literally smashing the ‘ball' of meat on the griddle so it flattens down and seals in all the flavour.
Want to take your dishes that step further? Why not tailor your options to tie in with global flavours, exploring influences from Italian to American and even Indian cuisine? You could even pair accompanying sides to complement the global flavours and boost profit margins: think mouth-watering options like fresh crunchy slaws, halloumi fries, creamy mac and cheese, spicy masala chips or fully loaded fries.
Marinate to maximise your meats
With many operators temporarily offering reduced menus, chefs need to become even craftier with how they create a diverse barbecue offering to tantalise taste buds and tempt consumers. ‘Little luxuries' is a big trend this year, with consumers seeking ways to elevate everyday dishes with a simple twist – meaning barbecue expectations are far higher than ever before, and no longer will a standard cheeseburger or basic hotdog suffice!
Marinating your meat provides a delicious and easy way to create a wide range of flavours on a menu – from spicy and hot, to fragrant and tangy, smoky and sweet, or herby and garlicky. We're seeing a rise in popularity for sauces applied after the meat is cooked, allowing each order to be tailored to the individual. The range from Major is brushed on and soaked into the meat while it's resting, allowing a griddle of different meat cuts to be transformed into individual unique dishes that can offer personalised dishes to customers, with flavours of creamy garlic and herbs, to hot peri peri and so much more.