Rhubarb is back in season. I got my first bunch of it last weekend at New York’s Union Square farmer’s market. The sweet-tart smell of it cooking makes me happy. A little cinnamon, a little sugar, and in under fifteen minutes you have a tasty compote that goes beautifully with whipped cream or Greek yogurt. But have you ever tried making rhubarb as part of a main course?
Rhubarb is a natural for pairing with meats like lamb, duck, and pork. The sourness of rhubarb helps to balance the richness of the meat and bring out the flavor, the same way that cranberry relish makes your Thanksgiving turkey taste better.
Rhubarb originally comes from the Far East. There are references to it as far back as almost three thousand years ago in China, where it was used for medicinal and culinary purposes. As rhubarb made its way west along the Silk Road, enterprising cooks from Iran to Britain added the tart vegetable-yes, it’s technically a vegetable, although we use it like a fruit-to savory stews, soups, and roasts. Somehow, after it landed in the United States via Maine and Massachusetts in the 1820’s, rhubarb got stuck being strictly a dessert component, usually hiding behind sweet strawberries in pie.
By all means, make strawberry rhubarb pie this spring, there’s nothing better! But try it as part of your main course, too. Here’s Rachael’s mouthwatering recipe for Rhubarb Chutney. It uses sweet balsamic vinegar and golden raisins to draw out the flavor of rhubarb. She pairs it with Sautéed Pork Chops and Sherry-Berry Pan Gravy. Sounds like a great warm-weather meal to me, and with a garnish of bright pink rhubarb it’s sure to look stunning!
Rachael’s Rhubarb Chutney (goes with Sautéed Pork Chops with Sherry-Berry Pan Gravy)
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2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 stalks rhubarb, trimmed and chopped (about 1/2 pound)
A handful of golden raisins
In a medium skillet over medium heat melt two tablespoons of butter. Add sugar, lemon juice and vinegar and bring to a bubble. Add rhubarb and raisins and cook 10-12 minutes, until rhubarb is tender. Turn off the heat and set aside until the pork chops are done.