McCormick Grill Mates and Lawry’s Flavor Forecast 2013: Grilling Edition

Cheeseburger with cucumber salad

This post was sponsored by McCormick and is the first in a series of three posts featuring McCormick Grill Mates and Lawry's. The opinions expressed are my own.

There's nothing like burgers on the grill on a warm summer evening. I often find myself craving a burger and am so happy we have a grill and can just throw a couple on whenever that craving strikes. They make for such an easy dinner. When Jeff and I make burgers at home, he always seasons them with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and a little garlic powder.

Lawry's Seasoned Salt and McCormick Garlic Powder

I'd never had burgers made this way until I met him, and I was definitely skeptical at first (I'm usually good with a little salt and pepper). But once I tried his tried-and-true burger method, I was hooked too.

Seasoning burgers with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and McCormick Garlic Powder

It's a very simple preparation, but the Lawry's and garlic powder give the burgers a nice flavor boost that's well-complemented by a slice of tomato and some melty cheese.

Cheeseburger with cucumber, tomato, feta salad

Lawry's and McCormick products are staples in our household, so I really didn't hesitate when McCormick contacted me to see if I'd be interested in trying their Grill Mates products and sharing my experiences. Before I get to that, though, I want to share the McCormick Grill Mates and Lawry's Flavor Forecast 2013 with you.

As I mentioned above, we all know how great burgers are on the grill, but McCormick has some other ideas to share too. Let's start with Flavors to Watch. The experts at McCormick have forecasted that these seven flavors will be popular on grills across America this season:

  • Sweet tea -- Not just a refreshing beverage, sweet tea can offer bitter and sweet notes in marinades and sauces. McCormick has packaged this flavor in their Grill Mates Smokin' Sweet Tea Marinade.
  • Smoked tomato -- Smoking gives tomatoes richer and more intense notes, making them well-suited for use in DIY condiments, as well as for pizza toppings and sandwich fillings.
  • Oregano -- With its bold flavors, this herb brings Mediterranean flair to grilled foods like flatbreads and pizzas. Try it in the Grill Mates Backyard Brick Oven seasoning.
  • White peach -- Sliced and served on their own, added to salads, or used in beverages, grilled white peaches will add a subtle fragrant note.
  • Pecan wood -- Switching out your usual hickory wood chips for pecan wood chips will impart a sweet, nutty flavor to grilled foods.
  • Ginger  -- With warm, intense flavor, ginger is a great addition to everything from spice rubs to grilled desserts.
  • Whiskey -- The bold flavor of smoky, spicy whiskey pairs well with low-and-slow grilled meats. And incorporating those flavors is super-easy with the Grill Mates Slow & Low Tennessee Smokehouse BBQ Rub.

Next up: DIY Condiments. McCormick experts are forecasting a lot more messing around with ketchup, mustard, and the like. Amp up your burgers and dogs with homemade toppings from smokehouse maple mayo to herbed mustard to Asian spiced ketchup.

And then there's 5-Minute Marinating. How great would it be to decide to enjoy a marinated flank steak for dinner . . . at the last minute? Usually marinating can take hours if not an overnight rest in the fridge. With McCormick's 5-minute marinating technique, the marinating will be done before the grill's even hot. It just requires a more hands-on approach. Put the meat in a zipper-lock bag along with a marinade, seal up the bag and press out all the air, and massage the meat for 5 minutes, turning the bag often. Then it's ready for the grill.

Charred Fruit Drinks call for adding some grilled fruit to beverages and cocktails for some sweet and smoky flavor. You can grill everything from strawberries and mangos to cantaloupe and grapefruits. You know I love my grapefruit drinks -- now I'll have to try them with some charred grapefruit. And the technique is simple: Choose slightly underripe fruits, halve small fruits and cut larger fruits into manageable pieces, then grill over medium heat, turning halfway through. McCormick has a great chart showing how to prep different fruits and how long to grill them that you can use for reference.

S'mores are definitely big this year (aren't they always?). I think I've seen a recipe for a different version every day, and I got in on the action myself with my s'mores tartlets. McCormick experts see Social S’mores as being a big hit this season. Consider offering a build-your-own s'mores bar at your next BBQ. Provide different fillings for guests to use to assemble fun and tasty s'mores. The chocolate pretzel s'more sounds right up my alley, with chocolate-covered pretzels, marshmallow creme, and caramel.

Did you know that the type of wood you use for smoking can change the flavor of your food? That's why McCormick came up with Smoke & Spice Pairings. Depending on what type of wood chips you use, you'll want to find a spice to complement the flavor they impart. And you'll want to use certain chips and spices with certain meats. Check out the chart below for pairing suggestions. (And visit McCormick to learn how to turn your gas or charcoal grill into a smoker.)

Image courtesy of McCormick

And last but not least on the flavor forecast is Breads on the Grill. I love grilling bread. It can be as simple as slicing up a baguette, brushing it with oil, and grilling it until it's nice and toasty and has char marks on it. Then you've got a good base for all sorts of toppings. McCormick experts suggest trying naan, biscuits, ciabatta, pitas, olive bread, and flour tortillas on the grill. Ciabatta with Lawry's Mediterranean Herb Seasoned Salt and olive oil sounds good to me. Check out this chart for more pairing suggestions.

Will you get into any of the Flavors to Watch, DIY Condiments, Charred Fruit Drinks, and Smoke & Spice Pairings? Do you want to try 5-Minute Marinating, putting Breads on the Grill, or crafting Social S'mores? Let me know what you think of the McCormick Grill Mates and Lawry's Flavor Forecast 2013.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. I'll tell you all about the barbecue I had and the McCormick flavors I cooked with.