For reasons that I don’t quite understand, this blog is feeling more and more like a confessional. Sure, I’m resting on a cushy Aeron chair instead of a hard wooden kneeler. And I’m staring at a computer screen into the digital abyss instead of through a confessional screen into the face of absolution. The sounds of NPR or Pandora Quick Mix, not the church organ, float about the room. The room, which is bigger than a rest room stall, is not shrouded in darkness. Instead, it is bathed in bright sunlight. So if blogging is my confessional, does that mean cooking has become my religion?
Forgive me my sins, for I have been touched for the very first time…by rhubarb.
Shocking, isn’t it?
The temptation was everywhere. Rhubarb recipes exploded across food blogs as it came into season. But I resisted. Never in my 38 years had its biting tartness crossed my lips. Never had its redness stained my cutting board, or my tongue. And then Mary, Sweet Mary, and her Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce caused my rhubarb purity to crumble.
I don’t know what your first time was like, but mine was unforgettable. Tart but sweet, the sauce drew me into its arms. And it embraced me in a warm, smokey heat. (Pork tender) Loins and (chicken) breasts were glazed with its vibrant redness, beckoning me to satisfy myself with their meaty bits.
When it was over, I sighed contentedly. And now that I have fallen from grace and started down the path to rhubarb ruin, how long will it be before I’m sinning with rhubarb crumbles or crisps? How many rhubarb bars or compotes will I consume before this (spring) fling is over?
And how many Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s will I have to say to be granted forgiveness for my wicked ways by the Kitchen Gods?
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Sweet Mary’s Recipe
BAH Note: Sweet Mary’s recipe calls for 1 tablespoon molasses which I didn’t have and didn’t want to buy for a single tablespoon. When I asked her about possible substitutions, she suggested some additional brown sugar or possibly corn syrup. She also sings the praises of Zane and Zack’s Hot Pepper Sauce for this recipe. Having tasted Mary’s version of this sauce, I think that the praise is well placed because her sauce had a smoky heat that no combination of Tabasco and dried smoked chipotle powder can duplicate. So if you happen to live somewhere that you can readily get your hands on this hot sauce, can you send me a bottle? Or two? Or if you happen to be Zane and Zack, could you maybe find an East Coast distributor? I could quit my day job and sell it out of the trunk of my car…just a thought.
- 3 cups rhubarb, chopped (this will be something like 4 to 6 stalks)
- 1 1/2 cups diced mango (fresh or frozen but totally optional)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced (one small onion or half a medium/large onion)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon light brown sugar (reduce to 1/4 cup if using 1 tablespoon molasses)
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked chipotle powder (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the rhubarb begins to break down. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer rhubarb and water to a food processor, add the diced mango if using, and process until smooth.
Add oil to the now empty saucepan and place over medium heat. Add onion and cook approximately 5 minutes, or until soft.
Return the rhubarb mixture back to the saucepan, add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce is as thick as you want. Taste for seasoning and add additional vinegar, brown sugar, hot sauce, Worcestershire, chipotle powder, salt and pepper to taste.
For a smooth sauce, strain through a mesh sieve, the finer the better.