Say the word “rhubarb” and people swoon. They are either enchanted or repelled. Either way they come close to fainting. I was in the repelled group until last year when I decided to walk my talk about being brave in the kitchen and experimented with rhubarb and ground cherries, turning them into one of the most popular dishes on this blog—Rhubarb and Ground Cherry Chutney.
So this year I went right for enchantment when the rhubarb came in at Biver Farm. But I really wanted to stay away from anything cliché, like a millionth variation on rhubarb-strawberry pie. I’d already made four batches of Fresh Strawberry Oatmeal Cookies, so we were sort of “over” strawberries for a while. I did some digging and noticed how many times rhubarb is somehow paired with pork. (See Don smile.)
I made several varieties of sauce for pork and landed on a combination of rhubarb, mango, ghost pepper and cilantro that Don thinks is perfect with a roasted pork loin from Papa’s Pasture. My friend Deb and I (We’re the vegetarians, remember?) enjoyed it, too, with Garlic Cheese Curds and chunks of Smoked Gouda from Marcoot Jersey Creamery. The sauce will also work well with grilled salmon or cod, if you are a seafood fan. You can enjoy this sweet and spicy sauce any which way you choose, and note that you can adjust the heat by adjusting the pepper involved. A jalapeño, for instance, will make a much milder sauce than a ghost pepper and might be just the thing if there are little market sprouts at your table who have a sensitive palette. On the other hand, you could add a Carolina Reaper and set your guests aflame with compliments. Up to you.
- Two cups chopped rhubarb
- One large, very ripe mango, peeled and chopped
- One-half fresh ghost pepper, minced (or pepper of choice, depending on how much heat you want)
- One-quarter cup apple cider vinegar
- One-quarter cup blue agave nectar
- One teaspoon ground chipotle powder
- One teaspoon ground cumin
- One-quarter teaspoon ground allspice
- One-quarter cup fresh cilantro, minced
- Zest and juice of one large orange
- Put all the ingredients, except the cilantro and the orange zest and juice, in a medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Cook at a steady low simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb and mango cook down and the sauce thickens, about 35 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Puree in a food processor or blender. Stir in the minced cilantro and the orange zest and juice.
- Serve at room temperature.
Goes very well with roast pork loin, roast chicken, grilled fish or an assorted cheese tray. Oh, and maybe tequila… just a thought.
And if you are wondering why there is no photo of the sauce on the pork…. I just couldn’t move fast enough at the party. This dish was literally gone in less than 20 minutes. After placing the meat platter and the bowl of sauce on the table, I went to get the camera and when I came back only an empty plate and a dollop of sauce remained. Not kidding. Meat-eaters mean business; keep your hands outside the cage.