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Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Very Versatile Rhubarb Sauce


Think of this sauce as a starting point.

It's a simple yet stunning combination of flavors: rhubarb, lemon, cinnamon, and honey. It's delicious like this but you could also add strawberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries if you want a mixed fruit sauce. (Frozen berries would work great.)

Then what?
  • You can eat it just the way it is, possibly with a piece of good cheese or dark chocolate.
Tailor this very versatile rhubarb sauce to meet your needs by adjusting the sweetness and acidity.

If it's a dessert sauce, you may want to add a little more honey, especially if you're combining it with unsweetened yogurt or unsweetened whipped cream. The lemon zest already inside gives it a light citrus note, and because you probably don't need more acidity, you may choose to skip adding lemon juice.

If you're serving it as a savory sauce with meat or fish, the lemon juice would be a nice complement, to counter the fat in the dish. You'll want some honey to balance the tartness of the rhubarb but you won't want as much as you would if you were making a dessert. You may also want to stir in some fresh, finely chopped herbs like basil, tarragon, mint, or rosemary.

I used my food processor to slice the rhubarb, but it could also be chopped by hand. You don't necessarily have to cut thin slices. One-inch pieces are also fine, although they take a little longer to cook.

6 medium stalks fresh rhubarb, about 5 cups chopped
Pinch sea salt
Dash ground cinnamon
Splash water
1 organic lemon
3 to 4 tbsp honey

Add the rhubarb to a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot on the stove top, along with a pinch of sea salt, a dash of cinnamon, and a splash of water. Drizzle 3 tbsp honey over the rhubarb and cover.

Cook over low heat until some liquid begins to collect at the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, uncovered, until the rhubarb breaks down and melts into a sauce, about 10 more minutes depending on the size of your rhubarb pieces.

Zest the lemon over the pot and stir to incorporate it thoroughly into the sauce. Remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and set it aside for 5 minutes. Stir again and taste. Adjust the seasoning if desired, adding more sea salt, honey, or lemon zest as necessary. Add some of the juice from the lemon if you want a sharper sauce.

Once you've perfected the seasoning, serve it immediately or cool it to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container, and store it in the fridge until you're ready to eat it.

This recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce. It can be made several days ahead. It can also be frozen for several months.

To freeze:

Pour the sauce it into glass jars, leaving an inch of room at the top. Chill them in the fridge overnight, to reduce the risk of the glass cracking. Transfer them to the freezer and leave the lids loosened. Freeze them overnight, then tighten the lids.


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