Apricots are beautiful, orange-coloured fruits full of fibre and vitamin A. They are one of the first signs of summer. Relatives to peaches, apricots have velvety skin and flesh. They’re not too juicy but are definitely smooth and sweet. Some describe their flavour as almost musky, with a faint tartness that lies somewhere between a peach and a plum.

Apricots are originally from China as the climate there is perfectly suited to apricot culture but arrived in Europe via Armenia, which is why the scientific name is Prunus armenaica.

Although dried and canned apricots are available year-round, fresh apricots are in season in North America from May through August. While selecting apricots, look for ones that are rich orange in colour; avoid those that are pale and yellow.

The fruits should be slightly soft. If they are too firm, then they have not been tree-ripened. Tree-ripened fruits always taste best.

Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal. The next time you make whole grain pancakes, add some chopped apricots to the batter. Give a Middle-Eastern flavour to chicken or vegetable stew by adding dried, diced apricots. Serve fresh apricots in your green salad when they are in season.

The nutrients in apricots can help protect the heart and the eyes, as well as have the disease-fighting effect of fibre.

Their high beta-carotene content makes them important heart health foods. Beta-carotene helps protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which may help prevent heart disease.

Apricots contains vitamin A that promotes good vision. Being a good source of fibre, apricots offer a wealth of benefits, including preventing constipation and other digestive problems.

Now, for a recipe.

Apricot Stuffed BBQ Chicken

Ingredients

Whole chicken breasts, boned with skin on: 2

Dry stuffing mix: 100 gm

Chopped onion: 50 gm

Unsalted butter, melted: 2 tbsp

Ground ginger: half tsp

Fresh apricots, halved: 4

Apricot jam: half cup

Cider vinegar: 1 tbsp

Method: Place the chicken skin side down and pound it with a mallet to flatten it slightly. Combine the stuffing mix, onion, butter, and quarter tsp of ginger. Spoon the stuffing mixture in a strip along centre of each breast. Place the apricot halves on top of the stuffing. Wrap the chicken around the filling; tie each chicken roll with a string after every 2 inches. Barbecue on a rack placed at a height of about five-and-a-half inches on medium-hot coals for 15 minutes. Mix apricot jam, vinegar and the remaining quarter tsp of ginger. Brush jam mixture over the chicken rolls; continue cooking until they’re done.

Chef de Partie

Taj Connemara

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