Time to heat up the grill

What's influencing popular flavors on the grill this summer?  Big spice profiles, regional American twists, adventurous global inspirations and new tart-sweet combinations will be stoking the fires for a delicious grilling season, according to the McCormick Grill Mates and Lawry's Flavor Forecast 2011: Grilling Edition.


An expanded arsenal of ingredients, techniques and tools has become the modern grillmaster's badge of honor. As the art of grilling continues to evolve, 73 percent of today's grillers say they are looking for the latest trends and techniques, and three quarters of them like to layer flavors and ingredients.


Trends include: The New Tart 'n Sweet - The American palate is waking up to the uplifting excitement of sour ingredients. Grill-side, these foods find invigorating partners in fruits and naturally sweet flavors; Regional American Fire - Unique local ingredients and proud regional techniques are gaining a new level of acclaim and influence; Hot, Hotter, Hottest! - From earthy ancho to smoky chipotle to the red hot pop of cayenne - grillers are creating dynamic taste experiences by mixing and matching heat and flavors; and Flames of Adventure -- Backyard chefs of all skill levels are more willing than ever to try something new on the grates. With daring flavor combinations and a hunger for excitement, they're exploring new global frontiers at the grill.


Flavor combinations to watch are: Smoke & Craft Brews - Regional American beers are gutsy partners for the BBQ-inspired smoke notes that are being cleverly infused through a range of smoky ingredients and techniques: Mustard & Sweet Onion - Pleasingly pungent and biting, mustard is a lip-smacking counterpoint to the higher sugar content in mild sweet onions - a taste of summer in the South; Fiery Peppers & Grilled Corn - No matter what level of heat you're seeking, a mash-up of peppers packs maximum impact. Sweet and smoky grilled corn delivers just the right contrast to offset the heat; Paprika & Orange - Colorful sweet paprika meets the citrusy pop of orange to create a range of grill party favorites with an international flair - spanning Latin, North African, Spanish and more; and Balsamic & Blueberry - A sweet sign of summer, the fashionable blueberry joins tangy balsamic vinegar to put an attractive spin on sauces, marinades and salsas, as well as summertime sweets and beverages.