Rhubarb is a vegetable, even though we treat it as a fruit. I only ever had it as stewed rhubarb with custard or rhubarb fool in childhood, and I loved it. Understanding later on that rhubarb could be a savoury ingredient was a game-changer.
If you think about it, rhubarb isn’t sweet at all. Even the gorgeous bright pink forced Yorkshire rhubarb is markedly sour. Rhubarb loves sweet though. That makes it a wonderful ingredient in terms of a play on sweet and sour in a dish. It makes lovely ketchup too. It works with most meats, I especially like it with lamb and a roast like pork belly.
Batch Cook Your Rhubarb
I like to roast a batch of rhubarb in advance to use throughout the week. It took me a long time to realise that what I like to do is batch cook, but it makes sense to me to have readily available pre-cooked ingredients to make speedy meals.
In a tip I picked up from expert grower and cookery writer Mark Diacono of Otter Farm I have started to roast my rhubarb cut in short strips with a bare sprinkle of sugar and the water that clings to it after a quick wash in the sink. I put it in the oven at 180C and then turn it off immediately. I leave it in the oven for hours as it cools down and when cold, the rhubarb is cooked and tender but still perfectly holds its shape. You can do this or roast it in 10 minutes at 180C while you cook your chops.
This is from our new Zoom Show, The Cooking and Cocktail Show
This recipe was one I shared in the first episode of The Cooking and Cocktail Show which I am co-hosting with Oisín Davis, expert Irish drinks expert. Every week, on Thursday at 5pm, we aim to share with you easy gorgeous recipes to ease your lockdown experience just a little. I share the food and Oisín shares the drinks. Nothing fancy is required to recreate anything. We will always have a laugh too. We will be back next Thursday, I will share details in advance. In the meantime, I will share the recipes. Next up are my instant mini rhubarb and rose cheesecakes, and then the Spanish tapas recipes that I shared in our second episode yesterday.
We will be back next Thursday, I will share details in advance. In the meantime, I will share the recipes. Next up are my instant mini rhubarb and rose cheesecakes, and then the Spanish tapas recipes that I shared in our second episode yesterday.
- 200g rhubarb
- 25g brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp mild chilli like pul biber / Aleppo pepper
- 8 cardamom pods
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes (less if your salt is fine)
- 6 small lamb chops
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
- fresh coriander to finish
- oil or butter for frying
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Prepare your spice rub by toasting the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat until fragrant. This should take just a minute or so in a preheated pan. Add to your pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind with the salt and chilli. Gently bash your cardamom pods to remove the outside husk and grind the seeds with the cumin, salt and chilli. Rub into the lamb chops and leave them covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. 2 hours in advance if you can, overnight is good too.
Slice your rhubarb into short lengths of about 10cm. Arrange your rhubarb in a single layer on a lightly greased roasting tray and sprinkle the sugar on top. Roast for 10 minutes.
While the rhubarb is roasting cook your chops in a frying pan with a little oil until done to your liking (I like mine pink). Remove to a plate and allow to rest under foil while you prepare the rhubarb.
Fry the onion in the juices leftover from the lamb for just a couple of minutes (we aren't trying to get it really soft). Add the roasted rhubarb, the vinegar and the honey or maple syrup. Stir through and cook for a few minutes.
Serve the chops with the rhubarb and onion on the side with fresh coriander on top.
You can enhance this dish really beautifully with a Middle Eastern spin by adding a couple of tablespoons of pomegranate molasses and a tablespoon of honey in place of the vinegar and honey. Add a sprinkle of sumac too for some lovely sharp sour flavour.
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