09 May 2006

Motorbikes, mayhem, and ... RHUBARB season!

Just went through a whirlwind month that involved getting my motorbike license, test riding and buying a bike, and now, not only licensing and registering the bike, but also building a shed in which it can live safe and sheltered from the elements - both human and meteorological. Unbelievable how much time all that can consume. Add in a couple of trips and two people very busy at work, and well...it's all to say that I regret the gap between posts, but it's been that kind of month.

Whilst I could wax poetic about the bike, and about the joys of cruising on two wheels with the bugs splattering on your helmet, I'll instead give a quick solution kind of a recipe, along the lines of the ones that got us through the last six weeks.

In fact, I'll do one better. Here's a quick recipe that passes beyond "quick fix" into "burgeoning gourmet". Even better, it uses some rhubarb, which at this time of year is usually available from your own or your neighbour's back yard. I'll leave it up to you to remember to ask before you take any of the neighbours' though!

As with many of my meals, this pairs a meat with a chutney/sauce/compote kind of deal. This time, I had a hankering for rhubarb, and I wanted to see if I could make it into something savoury, instead of a stewed dessert or baked into muffins/pies. Sure enough, it worked.


8-9 stalks rhubarb
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped into small pieces (not too small)
1/4 cup dry (white) Vermouth or dry white wine
3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Pork loin, chops, or chicken breasts

Take all but two of your stalks of rhubarb. Wash, trim ends/leaves. Chop into one inch long pieces.
Take the remaining stalks, wash/trim ends...and chop into two inch long pieces.

In a large thick frying/saute pan, saute the shallots with a teaspoon of olive oil. Grind in black pepper (when it hits the hot oil, it will release a lot of flavour!). Toss in the small pieces of rhubarb, three tablespoons sugar, and sprinkle with salt. Top with dry Vermouth (wine will work, but it's a stronger flavour, so use a bit less). Quickly give a light shake to mix gently. Now add the larger pieces, shaking ever so lightly to rest in among the smaller pieces, but without burying them. Pour over balsamic vinegar. If you don't have that, don't sweat it. Do not stir, at all. Some of your rhubarb will lose its shape, some will stay intact. That's the goal.

Meanwhile, lightly season a pork loin (allow a pre-cooked weight of 150g loin per three guests), or double-thick pork chops (those 1-inchers your butcher keeps at the counter), or chicken breasts with a bit of pepper, rosemary or marjoram (and salt on the chicken, but don't salt "seasoned" pork, as it's already quite salty). Grill on your barbeque -- I guess if you don't have one, you can just roast them in the oven.

Taste the rhubarb to make sure it's sweet enough - you want an edge, but not tartness. Transfer carefully to a dish for serving (a very wide spoon or rice paddle works well), reserving some for spooning over the meat.

When the meat is cooked, serve with a bit of the rhubarb sauce on top, the rest on the side.

Makes plenty.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Hi Marshal, I tried your rhubarb / pork dish yesterday, it turned out great. I couldn't find fresh rhubarb so I used frozen, it still seemed pretty good to me. Hope you are enjoying that new motorbike!