Never mind the crumble: Mark Hix's adventurous rhubarb recipes

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Forced rhubarb is here to enliven tired winter palates. Try it with duck, haggis – even offal, says our man in the kitchen.

We struggle with the British fruit situation at this time of year – the options seem somewhat exhausted, meaning we often have to look further afield for fruity dessert inspiration. So it's a bit of a relief when the first British forced rhubarb appears in January: it's one more ingredient to slot into the pudding menu.

Rhubarb has many uses outside of desserts, though; its colour and sharpness is well suited to all sorts of savoury dishes, with or without sugar added. Officially, of course, the rhubarb is a vegetable, but over the years it seems to have found itself widely considered a fruit; it's most certainly joined the pudding party.

I've done a few recipes here where it can also play for the savoury team. Its acidity and texture – as long as it's not stewed to death – certainly works well with a variety of mains.

Haggis with bashed neeps and rhubarb

Serves 4

I know Burns Night has just passed but there is nothing to stop you serving haggis any time of the year – and we often continue celebrating a bit before and after the birthday anyway.

At the restaurant, we buy our haggis from Weatherall Foods. It is made in Dumfries by Stuart Houston, and beats a lot of the haggis I've tried over the years.

A good-quality haggis weighing about 600-800g
700-800g swede, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g butter

For the sauce

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
A good knob of butter
2tsp flour
½tsp tomato purée
A good splash of whiskey
250ml beef stock
A couple of sticks of rhubarb, cut into rough 1cm chunks

Place the haggis in a pan of water and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. While the haggis is cooking, make the sauce: melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the shallots for 2-3 minutes until lightly coloured. Add the flour and tomato purée and stir well over a low heat for a minute. Gradually add the whiskey and stock, stirring to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes, giving the occasional whisk, until the sauce has reduced by about two-thirds and thickened. Add the rhubarb and simmer for another minute or so until the rhubarb is cooked but has a bit of bite to it.

Meanwhile, cook the swede in lightly salted water until tender, then drain and coarsely mash with butter and season to taste.

To serve, spoon the neeps on to warmed serving plates, cut the haggis open and scoop a good, large spoonful out on to the neeps; then spoon the sauce over and around.

The rhubarb triangle

Serves 4

As you may or may not know, the majority of our rhubarb historically came from the rhubarb triangle in Yorkshire, which is an area between Bradford, Leeds and Wakefield.

As a nod to this famous rhubarb-growing area I thought a triangular tart would fit the bill. It's dead simple, this – as long as you can draw an equilateral triangle, that is…

You can serve this with ice-cream, clotted cream or whipped cream flavoured with vanilla, ginger or even a dash of Kingston Black cider brandy.

Approx 150g butter puff pastry, rolled to about ¼cm thick
500-550g medium-sized, deep red rhubarb
4tbsp caster sugar

For the syrup

Trimmings from the rhubarb
2tbsp caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Cut four 13-14cm-sided equilateral triangles and put them on to a non-stick or heavy baking tray, spacing them out well.

Cut the rhubarb into 12-13cm lengths and lay them around the triangle about ½cm from the edges of the puff pastry and as close together as you can, cutting the rhubarbf down as you get towards the middle.

Sprinkle the caster sugar evenly over the rhubarb and bake the triangles for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is crisp. The rhubarb shouldn't be allowed to colour too much – if it starts to, turn the oven down.

Meanwhile, put the rhubarb trimmings in a pan along with the sugar and a tablespoon of water and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often. Strain the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve, pushing it through with the back of a spoon into a clean pan.

You can leave the bits of rhubarb in the sieve to cool, and then stir into some whipped cream to serve with it too, if you like.

Boil the liquid until it has reduced by about half and has begun to thicken. Remove from the heat and leave the syrupy liquid to cool.

Serve with your choice of toppings and spoon the syrup around.

Duck breast with sweet and sour rhubarb

Serves 4

Duck has lots of classic fruity partners but rhubarb often isn't one of them. I'm not sure why – for me, it's a perfect marriage.

You can use a whole duck for this, or duck breasts, which are readily available in butchers and supermarkets.

4 duck breasts weighing about 160-200g each
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150-200g rhubarb
2tbsp cider vinegar
2tbsp granulated sugar
A couple of good knobs of butter

Cut the rhubarb into batons, roughly 6-7cm x ½cm wide. Season the duck breasts, heat a heavy frying pan and cook the breast with the skin down for about 5 minutes on a medium heat, pouring off any fat as it's cooking, which you can save for roast potatoes. Turn the breasts over and cook for another 4-5 minutes, keeping them nice and pink.

Meanwhile, heat the vinegar in a wide pan with the sugar and a tablespoon of water and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the rhubarb and butter and simmer for 30 seconds with a lid on, then remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.

Continue simmering the liquid until you have just a couple of tablespoons; then mix with the rhubarb and remove from the heat.

To serve, cut the duck breasts into 7 or 8 slices, vertically, and arrange on warmed serving plates. Spoon the rhubarb and syrup on top.

Chicken livers on toast with rhubarb

Serves 4

Offal and rhubarb? Why not? A bit of sweet and sour really cuts through the richness of the livers, rather like a citrus fruit. You could also serve this without the toast, and just have a few salad leaves with it.

250-300g fresh chicken livers, cleaned
A little rapeseed or vegetable oil for frying
100g butter
2 shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
A couple of sticks of rhubarb, finely diced
100ml sherry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 x 1cm slices of bread from a small bloomer-type loaf or ciabatta

Season the livers, heat a little oil in a large frying pan until it begins to smoke, and brown the livers quickly in one or two batches, depending on the size of your frying pan; then transfer to a plate.

Wipe out the pan with some kitchen roll, melt half of the butter and quickly cook the rhubarb and shallots for a couple of minutes without colouring. Add the sherry and whisk in the rest of the butter.

Meanwhile, toast the bread. Return the livers to the pan and re-heat for a minute. Re-season, if necessary, then spoon on to the hot toast.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable