1. Triple Play Grilled Cheese
Signature condiments, sauces and toppings can elevate sandwiches and burgers to premium status. They bring an element of on-trend, unique flavor to classic items patrons already love—perfect for developing LTOs or “buzzy” menu items to differentiate menus.
Take this eye-popping sandwich, for example—the best of two customer favorites (macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese) in one memorable dish. The secret ingredient? A layer of savory bacon jam which is showing tremendous growth on menus—up 253% over the past four years (Datassential MenuTrends, 2017).
The Triple Play Grilled Cheese features four types of cheese, mac and cheese made with Custom Culinary® Gold Label Pale Ale Cheese Sauce and Custom Culinary® Gold Label Bacon Onion Marmalade. Get the recipe here.
2. Char-Grilled Shrimp Tostadas
When it doubt, play with fire. With so many types of chili peppers making their way onto menus, there are endless possibilities for creating signature condiments with just the right amount of heat. On the smoky side, chipotle (up 17%) and ancho (up 66%) continue to show solid growth on restaurant menus while habanero (up 65%) and ghost peppers (up 1,023%) heat up dishes on the spicier side of the Scoville scale (Datassential MenuTrends, 2017).
Exciting combinations of textures, colors and flavors will make these dishes stand out on menus. Try focusing on one type of chili pepper used in different ways across a single dish. These Char-Grilled Shrimp Tostadas, for example, are made with chipotle pepper jelly-glazed shrimp and topped with a chipotle-balsamic drizzle. Both sauces were created with Custom Culinary® Master’s Touch Chipotle Flavor Concentrate. Get the recipe here.
3. Smokehouse Bacon Jam Burger
Whether it’s beef with pulled pork or turkey and bacon, double- (or even triple-) protein burgers appeal to adventurous eaters with big appetites. Consider a unique spread, savory jam or other condiment to tie strong flavors together. Operators can’t go wrong with caramelized onion—in fact, onion jam is up 101% on menus since 2013 (Datassential MenuTrends, 2017).
Pictured above is a Smokehouse Bacon Jam Burger, featuring an Angus beef patty topped width slow-smoked Texas-style brisket, buttermilk-battered fried onions, pepper jack cheese and Custom Culinary® Gold Label Bacon Onion Marmalade. Get the recipe here.
4. The Champion Burger
Sun-dried tomatoes. Roasted mushrooms. Aged Parmesan cheese. These are just a few of the ingredients rich in umami, the elusive “fifth taste” that describes savory, meaty, craveable flavors. More and more operators are showing off their umami know-how with vivid menu descriptions; in fact, “umami” menu mentions are up 154% over the past four years (Datassential MenuTrends, 2017). Umami-packed condiments and toppings add complex flavor to burgers and sandwiches with ease.
The Champion Burger delivers a mouthwatering umami experience across the board. Start with the patty—the process of searing beef amplifies its naturally occurring umami flavors. Add bacon and a slice of ham, which is higher in glutamates (the amino acids we perceive as umami) than any other type of meat. Aged cheddar cheese delivers more intense umami flavors than soft or fresh cheeses. And top it off with Custom Culinary® Gold Label Kentucky-Style Bourbon Sauce, which is packed with umami-rich ingredients including soy, Worcestershire sauce and molasses. Get the recipe here.
5. Carne Asada Torta
Global sandwiches and hand-held street foods are great starting platforms for flavor innovation. Fusion dishes inspired by authentic ethnic cuisine—such as skewers, pita sandwiches and empanadas—offer wide-ranging appeal. Street tacos, for example, have grown 145% on restaurant menus since 2013. Indian samosas are up 106% on fast casual menus alone (Datassential MenuTrends, 2017)! Operators have a unique opportunity to serve these dishes with on-trend dipping sauces and condiments in a range of flavor profiles.
When traditional American diner fare meets Mexican street food, the result is delicious: a Carne Asada Torta. A toasty bolillo roll is stuffed with grilled steak, refried beans, Cotija cheese and roasted poblano peppers, then topped with an unexpected tequila jalapeno gravy. Rich and creamy with a kick, this delicious sauce is made with Custom Culinary® PanRoast® Brown Gravy Mix and Custom Culinary® Gold Label Jalapeño Relish. Get the recipe here.