All Rhubarb, All The Time

In other parts of the world, fruit is in season. In places other than Seattle, pastry chefs are working with more than Rhubarb.

But no matter how many sunny Seattle weekends drive a burning desire to work with fruit, nothing but Rhubarb, which technically isn’t even a fruit, is available to me.

I know, I know. Soon I will be whining that there is so much fruit and so little time. You see, here in this great green city, our fruit seasons are compacted onto each other for 3 quick and furious months.

In two weeks strawberries will come, followed quickly by raspberries. Plums will begin the stone fruit season, and by the time I have a dish worked out for them, cherries will be piling up and the first of the peaches and nectarines will be coming in.

But until then it’s all rhubarb, all the time.

This year, I have been making a lot of my favorite rhubarb recipe, orange rhubarb compote. Aside from being a fixture in my refrigerator and being gifted to friends, this working girl of a compote has a healthy professional career. She wakes up early dressed in soft hues of pink, to work at Veil’s brunch, served with toasted Columbia City breads in the morning. Moving into evening, she slips into something sexy, and nests a quenelle of buttermilk sorbet. Across town, this lady changes into her jeans and t-shirt and spends each day covering scoops of Molly Moon’s fantastic ice cream and is featured in a sundae with lemon ice cream, Chukar cherries, and vanilla whipped cream.

In a near brush with fame, this compote was to be featured in a local magazine. However, it hit the cutting room floor, making it necessary to share the recipe here with you. Soft, luxurious, and intensely deep in flavor, this compote’s real attraction is the simplicity in which it is prepared.  I think you too will find yourself coming back to this recipe again and again, maybe even well into the onslaught of seasonal fruit.

Orange Rhubarb Compote

2 tbsp butter

1 lb rhubarb

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp orange liquor

zest of one orange

1. Trim the Rhubarb of the ends, and split it lengthwise down the center. Cut across in 1 cm. intervals, leaving you with rough cubes of rhubarb.

2. In a large bowl, toss the rhubarb with the sugar and orange liquor, and orange zest, and set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the sugar coated rhubarb. Let this cook over a medium heat, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. When the rhubarb has started to release juices, gently stir.

3. Continue cooking the compote over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices are all released, then begin to thicken. Cooking time is about 10 to 15 minutes total, until the compote looks thick and the rhubarb is tender.

Notes:

* I set a timer last time I made it, just for you, and it took 13 minutes and 17 seconds until the desired texture and thickness was reached. This time will depend on the size of your rhubarb pieces, the particular heat of “medium” on your stove, etc, etc, etc. So use your intuition.

* Many of the cubes will break down from cooking, but some of the larger ones will remain as little tender lumps, offering bursts of tart rhubarb flavor in the mouth, and a pleasant texture on the tongue. If you like, you can break all the rhubarb apart with aggressive stirring, using the spoon to break the rhubarb up. You might even puree it and pass it through a sieve if you are looking for a smooth compote. But the less you stir, the more chunks you will leave intact.

16 Responses to “All Rhubarb, All The Time”

  1. Matthew says:

    Laurie just ate two English muffins topped with mascarpone and this compote. We keep it on hand all spring.

  2. Mori says:

    hmm… think I need to loot a bit more rhubarb from my boyfriend’s mother’s place and give it a try. The stalks I’ve got freshly-cut are going into Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Rhubarb Pie recipe, from her Pie and Pastry bible.

    Mm I adore rhubarb though… didn’t grow up eating it, but I was hooked from my first bite.

  3. Dawn says:

    Dana, this was the very first topping I tried when Molly Moon’s opened and it was amazing (I tried your hot fudge next time in and that was great, too!). Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  4. Lucille Anderson says:

    Oh, to have your problem.

    I live in Japan and rhubarb (at 3 stores in all of Tokyo) costs $6.00 for 4 stalks.

  5. We just starting making a rhubarb strawberry clafoutis at work! I’m going to try this recipe with the excess rhubarb we have in the walk in! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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  8. Eris says:

    I just had this lovely compote over waffles with whipped cream. It was heaven.

  9. suzanne says:

    thank you so much for this recipe — it’s amazing. I have a huge rhubarb plant in my garden and am thinking about using most of it for this compote and canning it. delicious.

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  11. [...] with everything – and Brandon’s soba with peanut-citrus sauce. And yesterday afternoon, I made rhubarb compote. I ate some of it just now, as a snack with plain yogurt, and it would also be good with fresh [...]

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  13. [...] everything – and Brandon’s soba with peanut-citrus sauce. And yesterday afternoon, I made rhubarb compote. I ate some of it just now, as a snack with plain yogurt, and it would also be good with fresh [...]

  14. [...] everything – and Brandon’s soba with peanut-citrus sauce. And yesterday afternoon, I made rhubarb compote. I ate some of it just now, as a snack with plain yogurt, and it would also be good with fresh [...]

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