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Forecast calls for smoke and spice

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Today is the official start of National Barbecue Month, giving you the next few weeks to break in the ol' grill before the unofficial start of summer - Memorial Day weekend.

As you're dreaming up new goodies to flip over flame this year, you may want to consider some of the hot flavor pairings predicted to gain steam in the coming months.

Spice specialists McCormick and Lawry's have teamed up to release their 2013 "Flavor Forecast" featuring the top tastes, trends and techniques they think will inspire backyard cooks this year.

On this year's hot list? Smoke and spice flavor pairings, grilled fruit drinks and do-it-yourself condiments.

And their specific seven flavors to watch? Sweet tea, smoked tomato, oregano, pecan wood, white peach, ginger and whiskey.

How can you get in on these expected trends?

  • SMOKE & SPICE: Grill lemons before adding them to fresh lemonade to give your drink a tart-complementing smoky flavor. Grilled fruits can jazz up sangria and iced tea, too.
  • HOT FLAVORS: Use pecan wood chips on the grill to bring a sweet and nutty essence to chicken, pork or vegetables, which pairs well with maple and bacon flavors .
  • CUSTOM CONDIMENTS: Stir in chopped chipotles or a little adobo sauce for smoky ketchup, and add pesto to mayo for a tangy burger topping.
  • Or just try out the two grilled orange chicken recipes included this week. One takes only four ingredients (and mere minutes) to pull together while the other uses a quick Asian marinade of orange and soy sauces with sesame seed, ginger and crushed red pepper.***

    Speaking of hot flavors and cool condiments, Sriracha is having a moment.

    Pronounced shree-ra-cha, it's a Thai-style hot sauce made from a blend of sun-ripened chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Sometimes called "rooster sauce" because of the bird adorning its bottle, Sriracha's big, balanced flavor and versatility has helped it gain quick popularity in recipes and on restaurant menus everywhere.

    Heck, it's even one of the three finalists in Frito-Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" national vote to choose the brand's next potato chip - with Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken 'n' Waffles being the expected also-rans.

    Popular in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, and as a condiment for some seafood, Sriracha can also find its way into your home-cooked creations. Try these . . .

  • Mix it with melted butter and drizzle over shrimp for a spicy appetizer.
  • Blend it with ketchup or mayonnaise to spice up either condiment for your burgers, dogs and fries.
  • Use it in your favorite chicken wing recipe to kick up the heat even more.
  • Saute kale, collards or other leafy greens with garlic and Sriracha to boost their flavor.
  • Mix it into macaroni and cheese for a spicy spin on a classic dish.
  • Make a brine with Srirachi, vinegar and spices to make your own homemade pickles or pickled vegetables.
  • Use it to spike a marinara sauce for pasta.
  • Or add a splash or three to your favorite Bloody Mary.
  • Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com or 304-348-1721. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy/.

     * * *

    Grilled orange chicken

    6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

    1/2 cup orange sauce, from Asian food aisle

    1/2 cup honey

    2 tsp. sesame seeds

    1. Cut chicken into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Combine the orange sauce with honey and put half in a medium mixing bowl, reserving the rest for later. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and toss to combine. Let chicken marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature or for up to 4 hours in the refrigerator. (If marinating in the refrigerator, let come to room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes.)

    2. Preheat the grill to moderately high heat (450 degrees on a gas grill). Divide chicken pieces onto 4 skewers, allowing the chicken to touch but do not crown them together.

    3. Brush grates of grill with oil and grill for 4 minutes with the lid closed. Turn skewers over and grill another 4 minutes covered. Brush the reserved sauce onto the chicken and cook for another 2 minutes, turning several times, or until the chicken is cooked through but still juicy. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

    Recipe courtesy of San-J

     

    Grilled Asian orange-ginger chicken

    1/4 cup orange juice

    1/4 cup soy sauce

    1/4 cup vegetable oil

    2 Tbsp. sesame seed

    1 Tbsp. garlic powder

    1 Tbsp. ground ginger

    1 Tbsp. grated orange peel

    1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

    1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts

    1. Mix all ingredients except chicken in medium bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons marinade for brushing.

    2. Place chicken in a large resealable bag. Add remaining marinade and turn to coat well. Massage chicken and marinade for 4-5 minutes. Remove chicken and discard any remaining marinade.

    3. Grill chicken over medium heat 6-7 minutes per side or until cooked through, brushing with reserved marinade. (Also discard any remaining marinade from this reserve.)

    Recipe courtesy of McCormick

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