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Jay Smith Corp. Exec. Chef Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill

Jay Smith
Corporate Executive Chef
Bloomin’ Brands

Smoky Watermelon and Carnitas Tacos

Recipe courtesy of Chef Jay Smith
Sponsor: National Watermelon Promotion Board

Serves: 24


Smoky Spice Rub

  • 3 Tbsp chipotle chile powder
  • 3 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

Smoky Chili Watermelon

  • 1 ½ lb watermelon, cut in 1-inch dice
  • 1 Tbsp smoky spice rub


  • 5 lb pork shoulder, cut in 2-inch dice
  • 5 Tbsp smoky spice rub
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 6 oz onion, cut in ¼-inch dice
  • 1 oz finely chopped garlic
  • 1 (7-oz) can chipotle chiles in adobo

Watermelon and Carnitas Tacos

  • 24 ea corn tortillas (heated on grill)
  • 72 pieces carnitas, skewered
  • 3 cups spinach, stemmed
  • 1 cup salsa verde
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled queso fresco
  • 1 1/2 lb smoky chili watermelon matchsticks
  • 24 leaves cilantro
  • 24 ea lime wedges


  1. For the spice rub: blend and store airtight.
  2. For the watermelon: season the watermelon with the smoky spice rub. Place into a bag and then vacuum to compress watermelon. Refrigerate for 12 hours and then use within 2 days.
  3. To use, cut the watermelon cubes into matchsticks 1 in. x ¼ in. x ¼ in.
  4. For the carnitas: season the pork with the spice rub and salt. Combine it with the onion, garlic, and chipotles in a 4-inch-deep hotel pan. Cover airtight with foil.
  5. Place in a 350 degree F convection oven for 2 hours and braise until the pork is fork tender.
  6. Let cool and then cover and refrigerate.
  7. Place carnitas skewers on a grill and heat evenly until hot throughout.
  8. Place a tortilla on a plate and top with ½ cup spinach and 3 pieces hot carnitas.
  9. Top with salsa verde, queso fresco, and watermelon matchsticks.
  10. Garnish with a lime wedge and cilantro leaf.

Project Management: Summit F&B Photography: Carlos Garcia // Food Styling: Peg Blackley & Bree Williams

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