There is no doubt that rhubarb is a tricky vegetable, it's just so incredibly sharp and so very easy just to add loads of sugar to it to remove that edge. It does however have some pretty major redeeming qualities with an array of flavours and foods that pair naturally with it such as pork and mackerel or almonds and ginger plus it is available at a time of year when no other fruit gets a look in, at least here in the UK.
It's bright candy coloured stems emerge from the frozen ground in the midst of Winter when the more popular plum, pear or strawberry are not even contemplating growth and really don't get going until the long rhubarb season ends. Rhubarb is also incredibly easy to grow, needs very little care and is wonderfully ornate, it's dark crinkly (though poisonous) leaves add green in the depths of winter. I always used to slightly dread it's arrival, and feel guilty that I didn't make enough use of it but over the years have found and developed some interesting and tasty ways to use it. I have put my favourite recipes into an ebook which you can download for free if you too like me are looking for interesting ways with rhubarb. There is a variety of sweet and savoury like the rhubarb and lentil curry, pork with roasted rhubarb and mackerel pate with pickled rhubarb below
Rhubarb has been around for centuries, and has been used for medicinal purposes since 2700BC, apparently it can be helpful for constipation. It was brought from Asia to England in Victorian times though they supposedly brought over the wrong variety over only to discover it was not good for medicinal use after all but great for cooking, and became very popular in pies, fools and crumbles in Victorian kitchens.
Rhubarb has a limited yet wonderful array of flavours that compliment it. It's sharpness contrasts beautifully with custard, meringues and cream and spices and flavours such as vanilla, cinnamon, almonds, ginger and honey whereas it cuts through mackerel and pork beautifully, a rhubarb chutney works beautifully with a soft brie like cheese..
If you try one recipe then this has to be the one: the humble rhubarb posset. It has such a great name and is the easiest pudding to make ever, plus it might just convert you to rhubarb as it is truly divine in texture and flavour.
For the rhubarb:
500g rhubarb (trimmed weight)
3 tbsp caster sugar
For the posset:
200g caster sugar
650ml double cream
lemon juice from a half
125ml the rhubarb cooking juices
To cook the rhubarb remove and discard any dry ends then slice each stem into short pieces roughly the length of a wine cork.
Place the rhubarb in a single layer in a shallow pan and sprinkle over the caster sugar, add the water, then bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and let the rhubarb cook over a moderate heat for 10 minutes or so, until it is thoroughly tender. Do keep an eye on it, as some rhubarb will “collapse” into strings in a matter of minutes, while others will take a good 15 minutes to come to tenderness.R
Remove the rhubarb from the heat, reserve six pieces for decoration, then drain the cooking juices into a bowl or jug. The juice should be brilliant pink, lightly syrupy and sweet-sour. If it seems less than intense, then let it reduce a little longer. You will need a good 125ml.
To make the posset, pour the cream into a saucepan, add the sugar then bring to the boil. Immediately turn the heat down so the cream doesn’t boil over then let it simmer enthusiastically for three minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and 125ml of the reserved rhubarb juice
Pour the posset mixture into six small pots or glasses and refrigerate for about four hours.Just before serving, place one of the reserved pieces of rhubarb on the surface of each posset, and spoon over a small amount of the reserved syrup.
The posset is the photo on the right, included here is also a rhubarb and frangipani tart and rhubarb and custard cake. If you would like a copy of my ebook please click on the link below