When Essex Farm, my sensational CSA, delivered a fat bundle of rhubarb stalks in the midst of a crazy-busy week, I employed my super fast, super simple rhubarb recipe. It results in a rustic, velvety rhubarb stew that is divine as is with heavy cream, creme fraiche, ice cream or yogurt; sandwiched between Foolproof Cream Biscuits with whipped cream for a lovely rhubarb shortcake; as a topping for pancakes; or a surprising flavor to blend with strawberry ice cream into a strawberry-rhubarb milkshake. Fifteen minutes of work yields a quart to have on hand…Here’s how to make it.
Method: Fast and Furious, Delish Rhubarb Stew
Rinse and drain a large handful or two of rhubarb stalks.
>>2 pounds of rhubarb, will yield 8 to 10 cups, 3 to 4 cups cooked.
I like to use my trusty over-the-sink colander, which allows me to prep food without having to clear out the dishes in the sink. Note: rhubarb can range in color from red to sour apple green, which was how Essex’s was.
Cut off and discard the cut ends, then slice the stalks crosswise into 1 to 2-inch chunks.
Measure the fruit. Figure approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup sweetener such as honey, agave or sugar per 4 cups cut fruit. Honey will give a more fragrant syrup, but when I’m low on it I mix it with sugar or use all sugar, which gives a more acute rhubarb flavor.
Add the sweetener to a large shallow pan (I use All-Clad 7406 MC2 Master Chef 13.5″ 6-quart Saute Pan. Because it is wide and shallow, it allows the abundant juices to reduce and concentrate easily; it also holds A LOT, in this case about 12 cups of fruit.) Use a vegetable peeler to strip the zest from a Meyer lemon, or a few strips from a regular lemon and/or orange. Add it to the sweetener, along with a few tablespoons of water or white wine if you have some open.
Set the pan over high heat, and stir until dissolved and you have a thick, bubbly syrup.
Add the rhubarb and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally.
As it cooks, the rhubarb will release lots of juices, which will mix with the syrup, reducing as it cooks.
Cook until the rhubarb is a soft, thick stew with many tender chunks. Taste; add more sugar if too tart, lemon juice if too sweet. The zest will most likely have candied and can be left in to eat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Depending on its uncooked color, the cooked rhubarb will fade and mute.
Eat some right away while it is warm.
Transfer to a clean vessel, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve cold, room temperature or warm. A drizzle of cream will make the homely, delicious stew look rather charming.
It is swell with sea salt whipped cream…