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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
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

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
    ‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

    ‘We knew he was something special’

    Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York