Chef's Blog

September 1, 2017

Capture the Taste of Live-Fire Cooking (Sponsored Content from Plate Magazine)

from Chef Brian Dragos

Capturing the taste of live-fire cooking requires chefs to take control and embrace risk. “It’s more challenging than sauté or pan frying. It’s like cooking without a net,” says Minor’s Executive Chef Brian Dragos. He’s been intrigued with live-fire cooking since working at a mesquite grill in Arizona. “With live fire there are some risks with burning hazards, overcooking and drying out food. It requires direct and indirect cooking.” But there are also rewards. “Flavor should be the top priority,” says Dragos.

The ability to control fire, temperature, and timing is complex but capturing the flavor of live-fire cooking is obtainable in more ways than one. Ready-To-Eat products can make the taste of live-fire cooking more accessible to chefs, allowing for widespread use in rubs, marinades, sauces and finishes.

Minor’s developed Latin Flavor Concentrates for chefs who may not have access to live fire, labor, ingredients or time— as well as those who require authentic, consistent flavor. Labor is a big issue in the foodservice industry. It can take multiple staff and hours of prep time to roast, peel, seed and chop peppers. According to Chef Dragos, one head banquet chef tried Minor’s Fire Roasted Poblano and Fire Roasted Jalapeno and ordered his staff to stop doing it by hand.

The unique and consistent flavor profiles of the concentrates are based on cherished recipes of generations of Latin American chefs. Fire roasting has been used for centuries to mellow the spiciness of the peppers and add smoky flavor. The Fire Roasted Poblano Flavor Concentrate combines fire-roasted poblano chile peppers with onions, garlic, cilantro and lime. Chef Dragos, who worked on developing the product, says poblano peppers contain an herbal flavor, not just heat. When you want more kick, he suggests Minor’s Fire Roasted Jalapeño Flavor Concentrate, with its blend of fire-roasted jalapeños, onions, garlic, cilantro and lime.

A high-pressured pasteurized technique using water pressure rather than heat keeps the texture, flavor and color of ingredients preserved. “The fresh factor is very high. It’s a turnkey flavor solution that saves chefs time and food costs,” Dragos says. Heat from fresh fire-roasted peppers can vary considerably depending on the season, region and other factors. With the Minor’s product, heat is consistent because the only peppers used meet specifications based on the Scoville heat scale. Chefs can adjust heat with confidence by adding more or less of the concentrates. The concentrates are gluten-free and tested ready-to-eat for cold or hot applications—without the need to heat the product to 165-degrees.

How to Conveniently Layer Flavor
“Flavor is like music, you don’t want to hear just one instrument. You want the whole band,” says Dragos. He offers some suggestions on how chefs can conveniently layer flavor and customize menu items using Minor’s Flavor Concentrates.

Spice Up Proteins
Rubs or marinades made with Minor’s Fire Roasted Jalapeño or Fire Roasted Poblano Flavor Concentrate add smoke to meats and vegetables. The Flavor Concentrates contain all the spices and oil needed; just add your choice of acid. Beer or a citrus juice is traditionally used for chicken and steak. “That’s three ingredients – the concentrate, protein and acid to get a world class flavor,” Dragos says.

Enhance the flavor of steaks with a house-made compound butter. Combine 2 tablespoons of Minor’s Fire Roasted Poblano Flavor Concentrate with 1 cup of butter. Cut into medallions and top your grilled meats with them when almost done.

Add Smoky Flavor to Vegetables
Make a delicious guacamole with roma tomatoes, avocado and Fire Roasted Jalapeño Flavor Concentrate. No need to add other ingredients. The cilantro, lime and salt are in the product. “You can also turn charred tomatoes into a zesty jalapeño salsa with a consistent degree of heat,” adds Dragos.

Any dish that can be enhanced with fire-roasted flavor is a good candidate for the Latin Flavor Concentrates. Toss vegetables such as yellow squash or zucchini in a Minor’s Fire Roasted Flavor Concentrate before searing in a pan or on a grill. Add a touch of vinegar to Minor’s Fire Roasted Jalapeño or Fire Roasted Poblano Flavor Concentrate to create a tasty vinaigrette.

Your patrons will love the flavor of these roasted potatoes. Just add one teaspoon of olive oil and two teaspoons of Minor’s Fire Roasted Poblano Flavor Concentrate for every cup of roasted potatoes.

Add a Flavor Burst to Sauces
According to Dragos, Minor’s Flavor Concentrates can also be used to liven up sauces. Combine 1 tablespoon and 1 cup of ketchup, bbq or ranch dressing to create signature sauces for chicken fingers, burgers or sandwiches.

Create Flavorful Finishes
Mexican cremas add a touch of richness and a perfect finish to many Latin dishes including soups, fish tacos, enchiladas and fajitas. Adding 1 tablespoon of a Flavor Concentrate to a cup of crema enhances the flavor with mild heat from the fire-roasted peppers and brightens with hints of fresh lime.

Creating tasty marinades, rubs, sauces and finishes with Minor’s Latin Flavor Concentrates can capture the flavor of live fire without the work of open-fire cooking. For inspiration, read about how chefs’ are cooking everything from vegetables and meat to bread and fruit in open flames, over wood-fired grills and smoldering coals at Plateonline.com. Find more recipes with fire-roasted flavor at www.flavormeansbusiness.com

by Joanne Costin, Plate Magazine
Copyright Plate Magazine, September 2017
Reprinted by permission

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