Tomato Salsa and #National BBQ Week

by Mark Broadbent

Mark Broadbent has enjoyed a food-obsessed career spanning three decades. He’s cooked in Five star Hotels, Two star Michelin restaurants, Gastro Pubs and Member’s Clubs, delivering unforgettable cuisine or acting as a consultant. London’s Bluebird was just one of his success stories. Under his creative direction, the restaurant achieved huge critical acclaim and was especially loved by AA Gill.

June 03rd 2016

It’s #National BBQ Week. And ironically one of the wettest starts to June I can remember in ages. What is going on with the weather, Mother Nature?

But come on food friends! Let’s not allow a little torrential downpour to put us off when it comes to al fresco catering (and dining).

BBQ-ing is one of the greatest cooking methods when it comes to extracting flavour from food. Fresh cuts of meat, freshly caught fish and freshly picked vegetables all benefit from a burst of charcoal heat. Cooked low and slow or seared quickly over molten rocks, BBQ’d dishes are just a delight.

My current favourite cut of meat to BBQ is bavette (or flap) steak. A particularly flavoursome cut of beef, it bears the unflattering name flap because of where it originates from: the less tender region of the animal on its underside. Once the upper flank is removed and the layers of fat taken off, the meat left is the flap.

The French like to call it bavette, which for them means bib, and I’m sticking with that. Apart from being delicious, it’s reasonably priced too. But don’t tell everyone.

My preferred way to eat bavette is to tenderize it with a quick rub: brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and paper. Leave the rub on for an hour then sear the meat over scorching charcoal, for just few minutes either side. Slice the BBQ’d meat into thick slithers and serve.

Of course with any BBQ let’s not forget the sides. You can’t plate up a beautifully crisp pork chop, a delicate slab of monkfish or a plump Portobello mushroom burger without a clutch of well-considered accompaniments.

Salads need to be crisp and zinging with life. Veggies need to be seasonal and packed with field-to-fork vitality. Rice or pulse dishes should burst with flavor. While your potato chips or wedges should be crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Beers should be glacial. Wine put in the chiller and fizzy drinks poured over as much ice as possible. Them’s the rules as far as I’m concerned.

A little side dish I find goes well with any – every – BBQ is a decent salsa. Bursting with the ripeness of plump vine tomatoes, the crunch of onion, the earthiness of fresh coriander and the piquancy of hot chili, it’s a wonderful counterpart for your main. But to be fair, it can also take centre stage as a dip for crudités, nachos or breads.

Tomato Salsa

vine tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped4-6
medium red onion, very finely chopped1/2
small red chili pepper, finely chopped1
white wine vinegarSplash
lime juiceSqueeze
fresh coriander, roughly choppedHandful
salt and pepper to tastePinch
Preparation Time: 1hr 30mins

It’s as simple as this. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and stir. Add as much or as little as the chili as you want. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve, but don’t leave for too long as you want the salsa at its freshest-best.

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