Summer-time grilling has become a national pastime. More than 95 percent of U.S. consumers say they like barbecue and nearly one-third say they eat barbecue or barbecue-sauced items in any given week, according to market research firm Datassential.
Foodservice operators bank on the fact that dashboard diners and road trip warriors will want to partake in this summertime ritual. This year, fast-food and quick-service restaurants are going upscale with their offerings.
To kick off National Barbecue Month (which was in May), Quiznos rolled out two barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, which were developed with chefs from the National Pork Board. They both feature lean pork shoulder that has been roasted low and slow for six hours and hand-pulled before serving.
The Southern Style sandwich tops the pork with Quiznos’ signature barbecue sauce, yellow mustard, melted mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and tangy pickles. The Spicy Chipotle is a fusion of pork, ham, smoky bacon, melted aged cheddar cheese, jalapeños, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomatoes, Quiznos’ signature Batch 83 four-pepper chili sauce and chipotle mayo on jalapeño cheddar bread.
Chick-fil-A also is embracing the flavors of summertime. From May 15 until Aug. 19, customers can order a new Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich and Watermelon Mint Lemonade. The sandwich features the chain’s signature grilled chicken along with bacon coated in a brown sugar pepper blend. This is served on a new Hawaiian-style bun with Colby-Jack cheese, green leaf lettuce and a zesty smokehouse barbecue sauce.
McDonald’s is using the popular grilling months to roll out its new Signature Sandwiches, which are customizable, upscale burgers and chicken (crispy or grilled) sandwiches that feature flavors like pico guacamole, sweet barbecue bacon and maple bacon dijon.
On the Menu this Summer
Pilgrim's Chicken Sausages
Pilgrim’s is launching a line of chicken sausages under its Gold’n Plump label, a brand known for making good chicken its mission. Fully cooked and ready to heat on the backyard grill or stovetop, the new sausages come in Bacon Gouda, Hickory Smoked Apple, Italian Cheese & Peppers, Jalapeno Cheddar and Spinach & Asiago varieties. The sausages are made with premium-quality, boneless skinless thigh meat from chickens raised with no antibiotics ever in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They are free from monosodium glutamate, fillers, preservatives, gluten and artificial flavors and colors. www.pilgrims.com
Lean Gourmet Burgers
Brava Meat Co. debuts a namesake line of frozen beef patties made with 90 percent lean beef and other all-natural ingredients, including ground mushrooms, seasonings and spices. There’s an original variety, as well as Bacon & Cheddar and Spinach & Feta. The quarter-pound burgers come four to a box and are described as being “juicy, lean and flavorful.” The brand’s trademarked tagline is "For the conscientious carnivore." A single patty contains 160-200 calories, 9-13g fat and 18-19g protein, depending on variety. www.bravameatco.com/
Crafted Burgers and Sausages
Man Cave Craft Eats made its debut in 2010 at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Three years later the company entered the retail scene. The brand has undergone a makeover and with that comes an array of new products for retail refrigerated and freezer cases. The fully cooked sausage line now includes Macaroni & Cheese Stuffed Beef Links; Riesling, Kale & Smoked Gouda Chicken Sausage; and Buffalo Wing Style with Bleu Cheese Bratwurst. New raw products include American Prosciutto Sausage, Bring Home the Bacon Patties (beef, pork and bacon) and Renegade Chef’s Blend Patties (sirloin, brisket and short rib). mancavecrafteats.com/