Some years ago when my daughter was organising her gap year she announced she was going to spend some of it learning Spanish in Punta Arenas, a city at the very southern-most tip of Chile. It was so far away that it sounded exotic…..inviting.
But ‘time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted’. Quick recourse to various guide books resulted in discovering from one that Punta Arenas was a place ‘downright stingy with good weather – the sun shines through sidelong rain’; and in terms of culture and entertainment others reported little of interest. Punta Arenas was one of the least interesting places, in fact, to explore in Latin America.
However flights had been booked and there was nothing to be done. The family where my daughter was placed treated her solely as a source of income and decamped to relatives leaving her alone in a house at the edge of the world, with a silent and empty kitchen except for a fridge full of chicken and rhubarb.
And a discovery was made. The two go together rather well.
Rhubarb also goes well with oily fish (rather in the same way that gooseberries go well with mackerel), try cider-soaked salmon. And it goes well with pork.
And of course it goes well with cream and ice cream – go here for a simple way to make your own, without an ice cream maker.
Recipe for savoury, or sweet, rhubarb sauce
A very easy method is to simply cut 900g/2 lbs of rhubarb into lengths, mix with ½ cup/110g soft brown sugar, and roast in a hot oven – 210°C for half an hour. Overwise use the method below.
Enough for four to six
- 5 sticks of rhubarb
- 2 tbsp honey
- Splash of raspberry or sherry vinegar – or even better apple balsamic vinegar (Liberty Fields is the only company I know that make this and it’s especially good in this sauce if it accompanies the salmon soaked in cider recipe). A thick raspberry balsamic from Garth Cottage (email@example.com) would also be good.
- Splash of orange juice
- About ten dried (or, if it’s summer, fresh) individual lavender flowers (not the whole head) – literally just a few, less is more with lavender
- Cut and destring the rhubarb into small chunks.
- Add the other ingredients, reserving four or five tiny lavender flowers for garnish
- Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for about half an hour until the rhubarb is well cooked through, and the mixture has reduced to become quite thick
- Check for sweetness, adjust if necessary, and serve, garnished with the remaining lavender flowers.
This post is dedicated to Steve and Dawn Totty, who gave me the rhubarb, and the lavender, from their kitchen garden when I was staying at Bramblewick Cottage.