Summer grilling season is officially here, and backyards across America are starting to turn to the phrase “low and slow” to describe their barbecuing style. Belmont Meats has noted that this summer’s barbecue trends show more and more people migrating to smoking rather than grilling, and a movement toward ceramic barbecues instead of traditional models.
“Low and slow – low temperatures and longer cooking times – is really gaining in popularity,” says Chef Curtis Dool, Belmont’s culinary expert. “Cooking in the backyard is one of the great joys of summer, and we’re seeing a growing willingness to spend more time getting it just right.”
Barbecue technology continues to evolve and advance, and the nation’s grill masters are now using their barbecues to make a much wider range of products, from traditional burgers and steaks to whole pork shoulders and even pizza, vegetables and desserts.
One tradition that may never die, however, is the American love of burgers. Recent statistics show that 42% of consumers eat burgers at least once a week, and average about 3.7 burgers per month, even more than pizza.
“Burgers may be forever popular, but what is in the burgers is changing, with more blending of pork and beef. The pork is lower cost and helps to provide moisture and give a different bite to the burger,” says Chef Curtis.
Burger condiments have started to see some new trends, with fancy combinations of mustard, banana ketchup and kimchi, as well as spicy options such as sriracha and ghost peppers increasing in popularity.
With beef prices rising steadily since 2011, barbecue enthusiasts have also started to pursue some less common, more affordable cuts of beef, like the terries major, a “shoulder tender” cut similar in tenderness to beef sirloin, or the flat iron steak, known for its tenderness, soft texture and generous marbling. Lamb is also rising in popularity, with many rediscovering lamb chops, shanks and lamb legs and throwing them on the grill.
The most significant barbecue trend shift relates to a push for conscious sourcing decisions, with consumers looking for antibiotic-free beef, raised without added hormones, and an increased preference for locally grown products.