Chefs Culinary Corner

Our team of skilled chefs shares their inspirations and tips for creating menu success.

More Than Just Desserts!

How to use Mondelēz International brands in savory dishes

Fun, exciting, joyful, novel, unexpected, Instagrammable: just a few of the attributes operators hope their dishes will evoke. Here we share some of Mondelēz International Foodservice Chef Patty Mitchell’s insights and recipes for letting beloved products shine across your menu—not just in desserts.

1. People often associate Mondelēz International brands with snacks and desserts only. How have you incorporated our brands into savory menu options? What is your favorite savory recipe you created?

Our brands taste and perform extremely well in all kinds of savory applications, particularly as breadings, inclusions and toppings. Both RITZ and PREMIUM crackers are a great replacement for typical breadcrumbs. We sell our RITZ crackers already crushed into the right size for breading, making it easy for you to blend with your favorite seasonings and used as a coating or inclusion. For example, I love combining Old Bay seasoning into PREMIUM cracker crumbs for a savory, delicious crab cake, as we’ve done in this recipe for Latin-Style Crab Cake Sandwich with PREMIUM Saltines. RITZ crackers also make a beautiful, buttery-crunchy topping for dishes like mac and cheese or baked fish.

One of my favorite savory recipes is our Cauliflower Bites Made with PREMIUM Saltines with Thai Chili Dipping Sauce, which is a delicious shareable appetizer. When I make it at home I like to use RITZ. RITZ also forms a beautiful, buttery crust on fried chicken, as in our Nashville Hot Chicken recipe—definitely a crowd-pleaser! As an inclusion, I really like these Fried Pickle Slices with Pimento Cheese Dip & RITZ Crackers. RITZ is used to coat the pickles, and also as an ingredient in the dip.

2. We know from Technomic that appetizers and small plates are still performing consistently in foodservice,1 while breaded apps continue to lead at top 500 restaurant chains.2 We also know and that about a quarter of consumers prefer appetizers made with brand name ingredients.1 What are some ways operators can use our ingredients to create savory appetizers or small plates?

Customers are looking for a level of indulgence, even in plant-forward options. Anything battered and fried makes an excellent small plate, especially when served with a flavorful dipping sauce, as we’ve done with our Fried Spiced Green Beans with RITZ Crackers recipe. RITZ cracker crumbs give veggies like green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms a softer bite than other coatings. You can also vary the texture by blending the RITZ with another breadcrumb like panko.

Jalapeno poppers are a breaded menu item that we’ve made distinctive by filling with smoked pulled pork and cheese, then coating in RITZ crackers. First you get the buttery salty flavor of RITZ, then you get smokiness of the pork, spiciness of the pepper, and finally, creaminess of the cream cheese. This is an example of a classic menu item (and great shareable app) that is elevated by a branded ingredient. The use of a whole jalapeno also adds a striking presentation.

As far as other shareable savory appetizers, I love our poutine recipe. It’s got a lot going on: corn dog bites breaded with RITZ batter and topped with chili and queso cheese sauce. It has that over-the-top, ballpark vibe that is both nostalgic and trendy.

Our Sticky Chicken Wings are also great for sharing. This new spin on chicken wings is sweet, savory and spicy with trendy Asian flavors.

3. Elote is becoming more mainstream and becoming a platform for new ingredients and presentations.1 How has this dish inspired you?

I’ve been seeing elote more and more on menus and wanted to do a Mondelēz spin on the recipe. I kept the smear somewhat traditional but coated the corn with RITZ and cotija cheese. The salt and dairy notes of the two ingredients form a great base for the spicy chili-lime notes.

Another way to make elote is by taking the corn off the cob, mixing it with the smear, putting it into small dishes and then topping with the RITZ/cotija mixture. Now you’ve got a great vegetarian side. This presentation also makes it possible to add other ingredients from your pantry or to make it your own with other trendy flavors. For example, you could add jalapeno or pulled pork.

4. Do you have any tips for ways non-commercial chefs can work with our ingredients to enhance their existing menu items or create new ones?

Textural components are very popular to customers. RITZ can be used to coat familiar menu items such as onion rings or fried pickles, adding textural interest, buttery notes and a recognized brand. It’s a versatile item that can be used to “plus up” a standard burger or sandwich, or served as an app or side.

5. How can sweet products like OREO be used in savory recipes? Are there any sweet/savory combinations that you developed to hit multiple flavor profiles?

When you create a savory menu item using OREO Cookies, or any of our brands for that matter, you need to think about how the flavor notes in the ingredient compliment one of your existing menu items or an ingredient in your pantry. When creating the ribs with OREO barbecue sauce, for example, I knew that the smoky flavor of the ribs would blend well with the dark cocoa flavor and sweet notes of OREO. For the pork mole torta, the depth of the cocoa notes and slight sweetness in the sauce balances out the fattiness of the pork.

NUTTER BUTTER is another sweet product that can work very well in savory recipes. The variegate blends so well in our Spicy Peanut-Dressed Pasta and Vegetables recipe that I thought it would be equally delicious in our Lemongrass Chicken Satay. I’m a fan of all of the flavors in this sandwich. Each component blends and balances the others: the pickled vegetables balance the creaminess of the NUTTER BUTTER sauce and adds a fresh component, while the satay marinade is both sweet and savory.

From a culinary standpoint, I’ve had a lot of fun with SOUR PATCH KIDS. Bacon is still very popular, so we did a sweet savory glaze for this candied bacon. This could be shared or used on a burger as a topper. It’s a great way to add some fun and novelty using a brand that a lot of people, particularly millennials, have fond associations with—and it tastes delicious! You really have to try it to see for yourself.

  • Sources:
  • 1.Technomic, Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report 2019
  • 2. Technomic, Starters, Small Plates and Sides Menu Insights 2019
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