Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb!

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A stick of rhubarb, a pot of sugar. What more could you want? Most would look at you askance these days if you were to offer them something like that as a sweet treat, but it’s certainly something more people should give a go, obviously avoiding those dangerous leaves. 

Rhubarb is in season at the moment and apart from doing the obligatory rhubarb crumble have you ever cooked anything else with it? You might be surprised to learn that it’s actually delicious when served with fish or crispy roast duck, but although it may sound like an unusual combination, it’s one which really works.

Crispy Roast Duck with Rhubarb Confit

Sounds like a dish fit for a king doesn’t it? This is one of those kinds of meals which are nice to make for a special occasion. I know we try to eat economically as often as is practical, but I managed to afford this when I had friends coming round for dinner, by cutting down on other shopping. I don’t mind doing this now and again as it means we can still enjoy friend’s company without feeling as if we are missing out on good food. The acidity of the rhubarb cuts through the richness of the duck wonderfully.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how to cook duck to your liking, but here are the details for the confit:

500g rhubarb, cut into 2 cm pieces

500ml dry cider

150ml cider vinegar

125g golden caster sugar

1 heaped teaspoon of fresh ginger, finely grated. (Works much nicer than powdered if you can manage to use it.)

Place all ingredients into a large saucepan and stir well. Bring everything to a simmering point and then turn heat down to the lowest you can go. Allow to simmer gently for between 45-50 minutes. Do not stir as this will make the rhubarb go mushy and it’s nicer if it retains some texture. The confit is ready when the rhubarb is covered with a dark, sticky glaze and the liquid has reduced down to no more than a tablespoon. Good with the crispy duck and also cold meats.

Rhubarb Curd

You’ve no doubt heard of lemon curd, and probably made it, but the chances are that a lot of us will not have made rhubarb curd.  Make the most of rhubarb while you have plenty of it in the garden and serve this delicious ‘jam’ on warm scones or poured into a pastry case to make a dessert.

600g rhubarb, roughly chopped

4 large eggs

200g butter, diced

4 teaspoons of cornflour

175g caster sugar

Put the rhubarb in a food processor and blend until fine. Place a sieve over a bowl, and pour in the rhubarb, pushing through with the back of a wooden spoon, saving as much juice as possible.

Place cornflour, eggs, sugar and butter, along with 250ml or reserved juice into a pan over a low heat. Whisk until butter has melted and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until resembling a consistency a thicker than custard. Take care to make sure the eggs don’t ‘scramble’ by keeping the heat low. Add a little extra reserved juice if you want it to be a little sharper and store in sterilised jars in the fridge for up to a week.

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