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BBQ - Home made Beef Burgers with Spicy Red Pepper Salsa / Lime and Nectarine Salsa / Nectarines

BBQThe weather has been so kind this year that most families are well geared up for barbecues – and there’s no better time than the August weekend to celebrate the holiday by dining out on the deck or patio, or maybe taking a portable barbecue to the beach.

Buy best quality grilling and frying cuts like T-bone, sirloin or fillet steaks and lamb cutlets, for barbecuing - and, of course, jumbo butcher’s sausages and home-made beef burgers are excellent barbecued, just make sure that they are well cooked and the juices run clear. The time element is important in successful barbecuing – allow plenty of time for the barbecue to heat to maximum (the charcoal must be grey), and then don’t rush the food, which must be properly cooked for safety.

Everyone always seems much hungrier when eating out of doors, so make plenty of side dishes – and prepare a selection of starters and nibbles beforehand to take the pressure off serving up food from the barbecue before it’s really ready. And it’s well worth taking the trouble to marinate and season raw meats and vegetables beforehand, as it will tenderize food as well as adding to the flavour.

Home-made Beef Burgers with Spicy Red Pepper Salsa

Home made beef burgersThere’s nothing to beat a well-seasoned home-made burger, made with good lean minced beef. Here it is served with a red pepper salsa ( which is also great with steaks), but you could adapt it for children who prefer a tomato sauce by omitting the red pepper and green chilli and replacing with 3 or 4 extra tomatoes. To peel the tomatoes easily, just immerse the tomatoes briefly in boiling water to loosen the skins.

Serves 4:

450g /1 lb lean minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped and cooked
2 tablesp. parsley, chopped
Dash of soy sauce
Salt and black pepper
Spicy Red Pepper Salsa
1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
2 large tomatoes, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1 green chilli, chopped
1-2 tablesp. olive oil
2 tablesp. parsley or basil
Salt and black pepper

To prepare the burgers: Mix the beef, onion, parsley and soy sauce together and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Shape into four burgers and store in the fridge, covered, until you are ready to cook.

To make the salsa: Whiz all the salsa ingredients in a food processor or liquidiser until it reaches the consistency you like.

To Cook: Heat the barbecue (coals must be grey). When ready, cook the burgers for about 5 minutes on each side until no pink meat remains at the centre of the burger and the juices run clear. Serve with baked (or boiled new) potatoes, the spicy red pepper salsa and a big side salad.

SHORT RECIPE: Lime and Nectarine Salsa

This – like any fruity salsa – is especially delicious with pork, so serve it with barbecued pork kebabs or chops. Peaches can be used instead of nectarines, but remove the furry skin first, by immersing in boiling water to loosen the skin.

Serves 4

2 nectarines, stoned and chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tablesp. coriander, chopped
2 tablesp. oil
1 tablesp. soy sauce

Simply prepare all the salsa ingredients according to type, then mix them together and taste for seasoning. The fruit is inclined to lose its fresh colour, so this is a salsa best used fresh.

INGREDIENT OF THE WEEK: NECTARINES

NectarinesWhat Are They?
Nectarines are a smooth-skinned variety of peach, the fruit of a hardy deciduous tree.

Where Do They Come From?
Peaches are native to China, but they are widely grown in other areas, including Europe; even in Britain and Ireland they can be grown under glass or in polytunnels – or as fan-trained trees on warm south or south-west facing walls. Nectarines are slightly less hardy than peaches and need sheltered sites for successful cultivation out of doors.

Where Can I Get Them?
European peaches and nectarines, mainly from Italy, are in season now and easily available in greengrocers and supermarkets. You may even be lucky enough to get Irish-grown fruit at farmers markets or small greengrocers where local growers may supply small quantities. Tasting the flavour of any warm top fruit freshly picked off the trees is a memorable experience, as visitors to Otto’s Creative Catering – a unique organic small holding and restaurant at Dunworley, near Butlerstown in West Cork - sometimes have the privilege to discover first hand. (Tel: 023 40461; www.ottoscreativecatering.com)

What Can I Do With Them?
Peaches and nectarines are both delicious eaten fresh as a whole fruit when fully ripe, and can be used in fruit salads etc – but dip any cut fruit into water acidulated with lemon juice to keep it fresh looking, as it browns quickly when exposed to the air. Peaches and nectarines are excellent cooked (simply poach in a slow cooker for tender results without the fruit breaking up) and they make lovely ices, smoothies and sauces for sweet or savoury dishes.

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