A taste of summer from around the world

Donal Skehan rustles up chicken with pickled cucumber, and griddled beef with lentil salad

Cook the chicken skin side down for six-eight minutes and then turn for a further six-eight minutes.

Cook the chicken skin side down for six-eight minutes and then turn for a further six-eight minutes.

 

Like most people, my summer has been busy. Part of my job has always required quite a bit of travel and this summer has been no different. From a food perspective this has always provided plenty of inspiration and – bar its downside of dodgy airport meals and delays – it’s always an opportunity to savour new cultures and cuisines.

Our first summer spent in Los Angeles was a hot one. To beat the heat we explored dishes such as slow-braised meat tacos, Korean bulgogi and kimchi and fresh pasta dishes from trendy Italian pop ups; only a small taste of the city’s diverse food scene. Time spent in Sweden satisfied cravings for all things seafood with piles of prawns and crayfish enjoyed with dill and baby potatoes, while Ireland gave me my fill of familiarity and a reminder of our truly unique food provenance.

While I write this I’ve just finished four days working in Bangkok, Thailand – a true adventure in eating. Spicy papaya salad with peanuts and dried shrimp, grilled snake fish, fiery tom yum soups and blood clams – the food is simply captivating. Travel is not only good for the soul but a treat for the tastebuds too. This week’s recipes are a nod to the suppers I’ve been cooking through the summer, grilled meats with simple sides that allow for minimal hassle.

Spiky sweetness

Htipiti is a Greek feta cheese and roasted red pepper spread that results in a sweet, smoky and salty concoction that works well as a dip for toasted pitta chips or spread on toasted sour dough bread and topped with roasted vegetables for an easy starter. Pronounced “h-tee-pee-tee”, the sauce is said to be named after the traditional method of pounding the cheese in a pestle and mortar to prepare it. In this recipe it provides a spiky sweetness to thin slices of striploin steak cooked until medium rare on a hot griddle pan. It’s a treat served as it is but the addition of a simple puy lentil salad makes it a meal.

The yoghurt marinade for the Indian grilled chicken here is one I use regularly to transform the traditional Sunday roast into something a little more alternative. However its true beauty comes to the fore when it is used to coat chicken bound for a hot grill. The chicken, tender from its acidic and creamy marinade is licked with flame and smoke to create fairly spectacular chicken and rather massive difference to your BBQ fare. A fresh, tasty cucumber pickle and a grilled brassica side in the form of tender stems of baby broccoli charred until tender gives this chicken dish its edge.

INDIAN SPICED YOGHURT GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PICKLED CUCUMBER SALAD

This yoghurt-based marinade slathered over a whole chicken, cooked on a trivet of onion slices and baked in the oven in a casserole is a wonderful end-of-summer dish, while used to coat chicken pieces it makes for a light summer dish. This cucumber pickle will sit happily for a week in a jar covered in the fridge – add to salads and sandwiches.

Serves 4

1-2 tbsp rapeseed oil

8 free range chicken thighs, skin on, deboned

250g tenderstem broccoli

Sea salt and ground black pepper

For the cucumber pickle

1 cucumber, thinly sliced on the diagonal, on a mandolin

4 tbsp cider vinegar

4 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tbsp salt

1 small shallot, very thinly sliced

For the marinade

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp freshly grated root ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp hot paprika

1 tbsp ground turmeric

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

250ml natural yogurt

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the cucumber pickle, in a bowl mix together the sugar and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved. Mix in the salt and shallot and add the thin slices of cucumber. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least two hours or overnight.

To make the marinade, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken to the mix and leave to marinate for at least four hours, or up to 24 hours is best.

Once ready to cook, put the broccoli in a small mixing bowl and toss in oil to coat and season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper.

On a griddle pan or BBQ on high, cook the chicken skin side down for six-eight minutes and then turn for a further six-eight minutes, until cooked all the way through.

Add the broccoli to the pan or grill and cook for six minutes, turning regularly until tender.

Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving platter with the charred broccoli and cucumber slices.

When the steak is cooked, allow to rest for five minutes covered before slicing into generous slices.
When the steak is cooked, allow to rest for five minutes covered before slicing into generous slices.

GRIDDLED BEEF WITH HTIPITI SPREAD & LENTIL SALAD

The htipiti spread will keep covered in the fridge for three days and makes any leftovers a wonderful addition to sandwiches.

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

450g piece striploin steak

1 tsp dried oregano

250g puy lentils, cooked & cooled

1 red onion, finely sliced

A good handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the htipiti spread

5 roasted red peppers from a jar

5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely grated

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried red chilli flakes

250g feta cheese, crumbled into small pieces

For the spread, slice open the roast red peppers and discard any seeds and membrane.

Place the red peppers, olive oil, garlic, red wine vinegar, dried oregano and chilli flakes in a mini food processor (or a regular one, but scrape down the sides a few times) and blitz in short bursts until the red peppers are just broken down, transfer to a small mixing bowl. Mix through the feta cheese. Season to taste and add more olive oil if needed.

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano and season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper. Add the steak and turn to coat completely.

Heat a large griddle pan over a high heat.

Place the steak in the centre of the hot griddle and cook for six minutes either side for medium-rare, depending on the thickness of the steak.

When the steak is cooked allow to rest for five minutes covered, before slicing into generous slices.

In a bowl, mix together the lentils and red onion. Chop half the parsley and add to the bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper. Toss to combine and arrange on serving platters with steak slices, htipiti sauce and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top.

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