June 24, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Rhubarb
We've tipped into summer and the farms of Maryland are sending all sort of fabulous food to the markets. One of the more dramatic vegetables you'll find out there this time of year is rhubarb. The long, bright crimson stalks of rhubarb look incredible, but the problem always is: what do you do with them? And there's more to rhubarb than good old rhubarb-strawberry pie.
The most prominent characteristic of rhubarb is its sourness. Although it is a fresh, clean sourness, left on its own, the flavor is way out of balance.
So you need to add sweetness, preferably fruit sweetness. In addition to the perennial choice, strawberries, we would also suggest ripe dark cherries as a blending partner. Many recipes we saw call for white sugar. We think honey may be a more compatible flavor for rhubarb.
Rhubarb-strawberry pie is the classic recipe, but we have found many others that appeal. One of the best is a rhubarb-cherry crumble, and it looks fabulous. Assuming that you know how to make the crumble part, here's what you do. Gently cook cut up rhubarb in butter until it softens. Stir in a cup of juicy dark, pitted cherries, some corn starch and a little orange juice to provide a base for the sauce. Adjust sweetness with honey and stir it all together. Proceed with the rest of the standard crumble recipe.
Savory recipes for rhubarb breads and muffins sound like a bit of a stretch, but a few years ago we concocted a savory rhubarb dish featuring grilled strips of rhubarb in a tangy balsamic sauce mixed with sweet Vidalia onions and crumbled bacon. As long as you balance the dish it can work.
One of the best examples of creative use of rhubarb came from the Woodberry Kitchen where they developed a rhubarb ice cream that used a minced, younger, milder rhubarb in a sweet cream setting. It was memorable.
We'd like to propose a new recipe for you, a Rhubarb Chutney. We think this would be great with grilled pork.
A Radio Kitchen Original Recipe
rice wine vinegar
balsamic vinegar (infused with black mission figs, if you can find it)
2 tbs honey
2 stalks of fresh young rhubarb, cleaned and cut into a chunky dice
1 sweet yellow onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
the flesh of half a very ripe honeydew melon, diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbs fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 tbs fresh finely minced ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1. In a large skillet, bring the liquid ingredients to a simmer over low heat.
2. Add the balance of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat back to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb softens.
3. Cut off the heat, and let the ingredients cool slowly. Refrigerate for at least one hour.