Life Recipes

Monday 26 September 2016

Donal Skehan's top BBQ recipes for perfect summer feasts

Donal Skehan

Published 17/05/2015 | 02:30

Donal Skehan's Blue Cheese Beef Sliders
Donal Skehan's Blue Cheese Beef Sliders
Donal Skehan's Asian Lamb Salad
Donal Skehan's BBQ Corn
Donal Skehan's Summer Salad
Donal Skehan's Halloumi Salad
Donal Skehan's Beetroot Burger
Donal Skehan's BBQ Pizza
Donal Skehan's Summer Strawberry Cheesecake

Every year when summer rolls around I find myself dreaming about all things barbecue. However, when the sun does decide to make an appearance, we're usually in such a rush to get out there and enjoy it that we tend make the same old things again and again.

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With the warmer months approaching, I want to show you that with a few quick, easy-to-prepare recipes on hand, you can pull together a delicious BBQ feast to make any neighbour jealous in no time.

There are a few things to consider when planning a barbecue. My tip is to buy the best quality meat that you can afford and, whenever possible, choose free-range. You really taste the difference in the end results especially when the focus of the meal is usually meat.

Another piece of advice I'd give is to mix it up. During BBQ season, we often eat the same thing over and over and by the time we hit August the thought of another sausage/burger combo makes us squirm. I suggest adding salads, sides and vegetarian options like my BBQ corn or halluomi salad. Trust me, your guests will thank you for it.

I love a burger as much as the next man but why not jazz things up and try my mini blue cheese sliders rather than the usual cheese single option. If you're a vegetarian or just want to try something a little adventurous, my blushing beetroot burgers make for a lovely alternative. Add my jerk sauce, creole seasoning or a herb marinade and the humble chicken wing will be taken to a new dimension.

To round off the meal, try my summer desserts. I love incorporating seasonal fruit and my summer berry cheesecakes are always a crowd pleaser. Kids (and adults) love the novelty of my sweet berry pizza but a lot can also be said for a scoop of raspberry ripple ice-cream to conclude any summer soirée.

Happy grilling!

Blue Cheese Beef Sliders

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If you haven't heard of sliders before, they are an American invention and are basically mini burgers. They are perfect for party nibbles and this particular recipe has sweet caramelised onion and salty blue cheese served alongside.

Serves 4

You will need

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced

Sea salt and ground black pepper

500g beef mince

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

60g blue cheese, cut into 8 slices

8 mini burger baps

2 Baby Gem lettuce, leaves separated

2 large tomatoes, cut into slices, to garnish

8 cornichons (gherkins), to garnish

Tomato ketchup, to serve

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the red onions and cook for a few minutes until they are slightly coloured, then reduce the heat and cook gently for about 8 minutes until softened right down. Season with sea salt and set aside to cool completely.

Combine the beef, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a large mixing bowl and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Form the meat mixture into 8 mini burger patties and place on a plate, cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge until you are ready to barbecue them.

To cook the burgers, make sure that the barbecue has reached a high heat. Fry the burgers for 3 minutes on either side until they are cooked all the way through. When you turn the burgers, add a slice of blue cheese to each one.

To serve, split the bread baps and fill with Baby Gem lettuce leaves, a slice of tomato, the burgers, some caramelised onions and a good dollop of ketchup - add some cornichons on the side!

Asian aromatic BBQ summer lamb with tangy seasame salad

If you've never barbecued lamb before you are totally missing out on one of my favourite flavours. It works particularly well with the smokeyness the barbecue gives and the addition here of lots of wonderful Asian ingredients really heightens that flavour. Lamb also barbecues equally well with a simple studding of rosemary and garlic.

Asian Lamb Salad

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Serves 4-6

You will need

For the lamb

2kg leg of Irish lamb butterflied

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger

4 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

5 tablespoons of dark soy sauce

3 teaspoons of sesame oil

For the tangy salad:

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of fish sauce

1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of honey

3 tablespoons of sesame seeds, toasted

1 chinese cabbage, finely shredded

3 carrots, grated

1 cucumber, finely sliced

3 spring onions, finely sliced

Method

Place all the ingredients for the lamb into a large resealable bag and seal. Give it a good shake so that everything is combined and the lamb is completely covered in the dark mixture. Place in the fridge to marinate for 2-6 hours.

Prepare the dressing for the tangy salad by whisking together in a large salad bowl the sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and sesame seeds. When you are ready to serve add in the cabbage, carrots, cucumber and spring onions and toss to coat completely.

Remove the lamb bag from the fridge about 40 minutes before you are ready to cook it. Thread two large metal skewers across the lamb to make it easier to transfer to the barbecue and also to turn. To cook the lamb on a gas barbecue, bring the barbecue to a high heat to start and sear the lamb on either side for about 4 minutes, then turn the heat right down low cover with a lid and cook for about 40 minutes until a meat thermometer registers 130˚F (for medium rare), turning the meat halfway through the cooking time.

To cook on a charcoal barbecue, prepare the grill by placing a double layer of coals on one side of the barbecue and a single layer on the other. This way you can sear the lamb on one side and then move it to the side with the single layer to cook for the longer cooking time. Follow the same cooking times and temperatures. If the lamb blackens too much simply place it on a sheet of tin foil.

When the lamb is cooked, transfer to a chopping board with grooves to catch the juices, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Slice the lamb thinly and serve with the tangy salad.

BBQ jerk chicken with mango salsa

The wonderful thing about marinating meat is that you can prepare it so far in advance. Pop the meat in the marinade in a resealable bag in the fridge overnight and the flavours will intensify. Marinated meat can also be frozen. This jerk chicken marinade is quite quirky and has lots of interesting flavours like lime juice, cinnamon, honey and ginger. It sounds like an odd combination but makes for many layers of flavours and served straight from the barbecue with this mango salsa, it's total sunshine food.

Serves 4-6

You will need

For the chicken

1 large free range chicken, cut into breasts, wings and legs

2 scotch bonnet chillis, finely minced

3 limes

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced

3 teaspoons of all spice

1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tablespoons of honey

6 tablespoons of tomato ketchup

For the salsa

2 ripe mangos, peeled, stone removed and roughly chopped in chunks

½ cucumber, center removed and diced

4 spring onions, finely chopped

1 small chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Sea salt and ground black pepper

A good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Method

Place the chicken in a large resealable bag and add in the rest of the chicken ingredients. Seal the bag and give it a good shake until everything is completely combined and the chicken is evenly coated.

Leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight if you have the time.

Combine all the ingredients for the salsa (except the coriander) in a mixing bowl and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix through the coriander when you're ready to serve.

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before you are ready to cook. Get the BBQ to a medium high heat and cook the chicken pieces for 15 minutes turning only once during the cooking time, until the chicken is completely cooked through.

The different pieces will take slightly different cooking times so a good way to check if they are cooked is to insert a meat thermometer at the thickest part and check that it registers 82.2˚C for drumsticks and thighs and 73.9˚C for breasts.

Serve the chicken with the mango salsa and some cous cous if you need a bit more sustenance!

Easy barbecue corn on the cob

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Possibly THE best way to eat corn! Soaking the husks in water allows the corn inside to cook and steam before you pull back the husks and allow them to catch on fire, giving them that authentic smoky taste. Slathering it with a little garlic butter will finish it perfectly…

Serves 4-6

You will need

4 corn on the cob, husks on

3 tablespoons of butter

1 clove of garlic, minced

A handful of freshly chopped parsley

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

In a bowl, mix together the butter, garlic and parsley and set aside. Soak the corn in a bucket of cold water for about 2 hours. Light the barbecue and allow the coals about 45 mins to an hour before starting to cook over them.

Cook whatever meat you have in the centre of the grill and then place the corn around the edges of the BBQ. Cover and cook the corn on the edges for about 20-25 minutes, turning half way through. The husks should be slightly charred and dry. When the husks are dry, using a metal tongs, pull back the husks so they stand upright and the corn is exposed. Place in the middle of the grill and allow the husk to catch fire and disintegrate. Remove from the barbecue and pull away any remaining husks. Spread with herby garlic butter and season with sea salt and black pepper. Dig in straight away!

Barbecued baby gem lettuce with beetroot roast tomatoes and a buttermilk dressing

This is a truly beautiful little vegetarian dinner which is so appealing you won't even realise there's no meat in it! Cooking the baby gem lettuce on the barbecue is a little trick I picked up in America. It really adds the most wonderful deep smoky flavour to an otherwise simple salad leaf. The chive flowers are an optional extra but really make a difference to the final dish. You can grow them quite easily during the summer.

Serves 2

You will need

6-8 tomatoes, cut in half

Olive oil, to drizzle

Balsamic vinegar, to drizzle

Sea salt and ground black pepper

2 potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes

2 baby gem lettuce, cut in half

2 cooked beetroot, cut in thin slices

Chive flowers to garnish

For the dressing

6 tablespoons of buttermilk

2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of cider vinegar

1 garlic clove, finely minced

A handful of chopped chives

Method

Preheat the oven to 190˚C.

Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and roast for about an hour until reduced in size and caramelised. Toss the potato cubes in a little oil and season with sea salt on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until crispy for about 1 hour. Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside. Heatthe barbecue to a high heat and brush the lettuce halves with a little oil and season. Place the lettuce halves onto the barbecue and cook for about 2 minutes either side until they have nice deep char marks but still hold their shape. Arrange on serving plates by placing slices of beetroot and the tomato halves around the side of the plate. Then add the lettuce halves, followed by the potato cubes and drizzle over the dressing. Finish with sprinkling of chive flowers and serve straight away.

Sweet Potato and Halloumi Salad

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Barbecues do not just have to be for meat. This recipe is a great example of a delicious salad that can be partly cooked on a hot grill. It's packed with punchy flavours that will leave you wanting more.

Serves 4

You will need

2 large sweet potatoes, sliced into 1cm pieces

400g halloumi cheese, sliced into 1cm pieces

Extra-virgin olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, finely sliced

2 red chillis, finely sliced

Ground black pepper

1 small handful mixed salad leaves per person

For the dressing

Handful fresh basil, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

Juice of 1 lime

3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

Place the sweet potato and halloumi slices on a large plate and then drizzle with olive oil and scatter with the garlic and chilli. Season with ground black pepper.

Toss each slice in oil so it's coated and then place on a medium-high heat on the barbecue. Cook the halloumi until it has golden brown score marks, then turn to cook the other side. Cook the sweet potato until charred and tender when pressed with tongs.

Assemble the salad by tossing the salad leaves in the dressing and placing a handful on each plate. Top with the slices of halloumi and sweet potato and serve with a little extra drizzle of the dressing.

Blushing Beetroot Burgers

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Beetroot are easy enough to grow, and there is a huge selection of varieties to choose from like pale pinks, candy-striped and even golden yellow ones. These vegetarian burgers are a great way of showing them off. I have served them here in baps but they are just as delicious served on their own with a healthy bulghur-wheat salad.

Makes 6 burgers

You will need

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 raw beetroot, peeled and grated

1 courgette, grated

2 large carrots, grated

100g porridge oats

400g tin chickpeas, drained

3 tablespoons tahini paste

1 large free-range egg, separated

4 spring onions finely sliced

3 tablespoons chopped coriander

To serve:

Sour cream

Lettuce leaves

Red onion

Tomatoes

Really good bread baps

Method

Heat about 1tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 4-5 mins or until softened. Add the grated vegetables and cool, stirring, for about 5 mins until wilted, then drain off any liquid.

Place the oats, chickpeas, tahini paste and egg yolk in a food processor and pulse to combine. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir through the chopped vegetables and coriander, and season generously.

Form the mixture into 8 patties and chill for about 3 mins (or up to 24 hours). Heat the barbecue to a high heat and cook the burgers, in batches if necessary, for about 2-3 mins each side until golden.

Serve the burgers in baps with a dollop of sour cream and some lettuce, red onion and tomatoes.

Thin Crust BBQ Pizza

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This recipe creates a wonderfully thin, crisp yet chewy dough, which ticks all the boxes for me. I make my pizzas on the barbecue on a pizza stone, which you can pick up quite cheaply these days. The idea is to get the stone really hot and assemble your pizza on top.

Makes 3 pizzas

You will need

255g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp salt

1 x 7.5g sachet of easy-blend dried yeast

175ml/6fl oz tepid water

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling

To assemble

3 tbsps tomato sauce per pizza

175g/6oz grated mozzarella cheese

Prosciutto

Pesto

For the tomato sauce

2 cloves garlic

red onion

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

glass red wine

2 tsps dried oregano

1 tsp sugar

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

For the tomato sauce:

Fry the garlic and red onion in the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat for about three minutes. Add the tomatoes, red wine, oregano, sugar and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until you are left with a thick reduced tomato sauce. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.

For the pizza:

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Whisk together the yeast, water and honey and allow to stand for a few minutes until frothy, then stir through the olive oil.

Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet mix. Using your fingertips, slowly bring the flour in from the sides and continue to mix until a rough dough forms. Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and knead for about five minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little extra flour until it becomes smooth.

Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and set aside in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface, then knead again for a minute and place back in the bowl to rise for a further 10 minutes. Pre-heat a pizza stone on a hot barbecue for about 30 minutes. Divide the dough into three pieces and roll out into rounds as thinly as possible. Pop one of the bases on the pizza stone and spread the base with the tomato sauce, a sprinkling of mozzarella, some prosciutto slices and a little pesto. Cover with a lid and bake the pizza on the barbecue for about eight minutes or until the cheese turns golden and the crust becomes crisp. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Summer Berry Sweet Pizza

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I love this surprisingly delicious dessert. Sweet pizzas are definitely the way forward, and you can use fresh or frozen berries here.

Makes 2

You will need

255g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting

tsp salt

1 x 7.5g sachet easy-blend dried yeast

175ml/6fl oz tepid water

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling

6 tbsps nutella

300g mixed berries

100g white chocolate grated

A few mint sprigs, to serve

Method

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Whisk together the yeast, water and honey and allow to stand for a few minutes until frothy, then stir through the olive oil. Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet mix. Using your fingertips, slowly bring the flour in from the sides and continue to mix until a rough dough forms.

Turn out the dough on to a floured work surface and knead for about five minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little extra flour until it becomes smooth.

Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and set aside in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface, then knead again for a minute and place back in the bowl to rise for a further 10 minutes.

Pre-heat a pizza stone on a hot barbecue for about 30 minutes or in the oven at 200˚C. Divide the dough into three pieces and roll out into rounds as thinly as possible.

Pop one of the bases on the pizza stone and spread the base with the nutella. Add the mixed berries and sprinkle with the grated white chocolate. Cover with a lid and bake the pizza on the barbecue for about eight minutes or until the crust becomes crisp.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Decorate with the mint sprigs.

Chimichurri surf & turf

The chimichurri sauce is originally from Argentina and it’s so simple to make yourself with just a couple of simple store-cupboard ingredients.

Makes 2

You will need

3 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into thin chips

2 rib eye steaks

6-8 Dublin bay prawns

1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil

2 teaspoons of cajun seasoning

3 large handfuls of mixed garden salad leaves

For the dressing

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 clove of garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Sea salt and ground black pepper

For the chimichurri sauce

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 handfuls of fresh flat leaf parsley

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

A pinch of cayenne pepper and sea salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 210°C. Toss the sweet potato chips in a large roasting tin, with the rapeseed oil and cajun seasoning.  Pop the roasting tin in the oven for 35-40 mins making sure to toss them half way through, until they are slightly charred on the edges.

Whizz together the ingredients for the chimichurri sauce in a food processor and decant into a bowl. Place the steaks on a plate along with the prawns and spread over half the chimichurri sauce allow to sit while you prepare the salad.

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and then toss through the salad leaves when you’re ready to serve.

On a very hot barbecue, cook the steaks for 2–3 minutes either side for medium and a little longer if you prefer a more well-done steak. Remove from the heat and allow to rest on a plate under some tinfoil. Add the prawns to the barbecue and cook for about 2 minutes either side. Serve the prawns with the steak, salad and some crispy sweet potato chips with a good dollop of chimichurri sauce on the side.

Mini Strawberry & White Chocolate Cheesecakes

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These little cheesecakes are a perfect summer dessert and truly celebrate summer berries when they are at their finest. If you prefer to make one large cheesecake and serve individual slices, just pour the mixture into a 20cm (8in) non-stick springform tin and allow a longer setting time in the fridge.

Makes 8

You will need

100g butter

200g gingernut biscuits

300g white chocolate, broken into small pieces

175g cream cheese

175g mascarpone

175ml double cream

175g Wexford strawberries, hulled

To Decorate

300g mixed berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, halved or quartered if large

fresh mint sprigs and small handful of edible flowers

Method

Arrange eight 7.5cm wide x 4cm deep ring moulds on a tray and set aside. Melt the butter in a small pan. Blitz the biscuits to a fine crumb in a food processor. Mix together and spoon into the bottom of each of the ring moulds, levelling it flat. Pop in the fridge for about 15 minutes until set. Heat the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir and set aside to cool to body temperature. Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese, mascarpone and double cream in a large bowl and set aside. Then stir in the cooled, melted chocolate until well blended. Blitz the strawberries in a blender until smooth and then ripple the puree through the creamy mixture. Spoon the mixture into the ring moulds, levelling it at the top of each one. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until set.

When ready to serve, carefully remove each mini cheesecake from the ring mould, slowly pushing the biscuit base up from underneath. Arrange in the centre of each serving plate and top with a selection of berries. Decorate with fresh mint leaves, scatter over some edible flowers and serve at once.

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