6 Ways to Spice Up Your Meals

Green Chile Pork TacosYou don't need to be a top chef to experiment with the newest cooking trends. According to the just released Heat & Spice: Culinary Trend Mapping Report from Packaged Facts, both professional and home cooks are experimenting with hot and spicy foods a lot more often. Here are six different ways to kick your everyday meals up a notch on the flavor scale.

Smoke: We've all loved smoky bacon for a long, long time, but lately we can't get enough of it...it's migrating from our breakfast tables all the way to end of day desserts...yes, it's becoming common to find bacon bits in brownies and peanut brittle. Look for smoky flavors in fruits, drinks, and desserts. Recipe to try: Glazed Black Pepper Bacon.

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Aleppo Pepper: This only moderately-hot middle eastern pepper is slightly smoky, a little bit fruity, and almost cumin-like. One of my favorite things to cook is aglio e olio - thin spaghetti tossed with a simple sauce of garlic, spicy red pepper flakes, and warm olive oil. Next time I make it, I'm going to give it a twist by substituting Aleppo pepper for the red pepper flakes.

Hatch Chiles: Specific to the Hatch area of New Mexico, these mild chiles are always roasted. You'll need to mail order them but if you add them to New Mexican Green Chile Pork, you'll get an authentic taste of the southwest without leaving home.

Buffalo: Chicken wings soared buffalo flavor into popularity. One of my favorite places to satisfy my buffalo cravings is Dinosaur Barbeque, near my own Syracuse University. Dinosaur's wings, served with your choice of sauces, including Wango Tango, Devil's Duel, and Garlic Chipotle, and always blue cheese dressing, never disappoint. Treat your family to this uniquely American flavor by grilling up a batch of Buffalo Chicken Burgers.

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Korean Pepper Paste: Sweeter and funkier than other chile pastes, Gochujang, is a staple in Korean households. This jammy condiment's made of red chile peppers, glutinous rice, and fermented soy beans. Its unique kick comes from the fermented flavor and its balance of heat and sweet. Pair it with a smoky ingredient or substitute it for another chile paste or even chiles. Where to start? Stir a spoonful into Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken.

Spicy Cocktails: Wasabi, cayenne, black pepper, and hot sauce are finding their way into our bar glasses. See Sherry Rujikarn's post on 3 new and spicy twists on the classic Bloody Mary.

If adding a dash of hot sauce to your marinade, dressing, or burger is enough of a culinary thrill for you, check out our post on the Test Kitchen's Favorite Hot Sauces. What do you use to turn up the flavor in your food? Let me know in the comments!

- by Valentina Palladino

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