Rhubarb season runs from April through to the end of summer, but it’s a real treat to eat fresh before the hot weather truly arrives.
In the UK, it’s best grown in the “Rhubarb Triangle” in West Yorkshire, so we asked two-starred Michelin chef Michael Wignall, who runs The Angel Inn at Hetton, for his favourite ways with the vibrant vegetable.
Rhubarb cooked in foil
400g rhubarb (washed and cut into approx 5cm batons)
5 drops of vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 lime
100g light brown sugar
Set an oven at 180C.
Place a sheet of aluminum foil (approx size of 2 x A4 sheets) on your work top. Lay your rhubarb on one side (ensure they are laid uniform) and leave the other side empty.
Mix the zest and juice of lime, vanilla extract and brown sugar together and sprinkle over the rhubarb.
Fold the empty side of the foil over the rhubarb to each corner and then fold each side into towards the centre 2-3 times, to wrap the rhubarb tightly, like an envelope (the better the seal the faster the rhubarb will cook, retaining all of its lovely flavour and juices).
Place the foil envelope onto a ceramic tray (this is to allow you to use the juices, should any leak out) and cook for approx 25-35 minutes.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes before carefully opening the bag and serve.
Serving suggestions: Serve with warm ginger custard, crème fraiche or clotted cream. Or go savoury with roasted duck or chicken.
For the crumble topping:
450g plain flour (sieved)
270g muscovado sugar
250g unsalted butter (diced)
170g ground almonds (replace with oats, if nut free)
60g pecan nuts (chopped fine) replaced with pumpkin seeds for nut free)
Zest of 1 orange
For the fruit base:
800g of rhubarb (washed and chopped into approx 3cm)
200g blueberries (adds a lovely sweetness and colour)
150g light brown sugar
For the crumble mixture:
Rub together the flour, sugar and almonds, making sure there are no lumps in the sugar (Muscovado sugar can get quite lumpy). Then add the butter in 3 stages and rub together, until you have a breadcrumb consistency.
Lastly, add the pecan nuts and stir in thoroughly.
For the fruit base:
Add the sugar and rhubarb to a large pan and cook on a medium heat, until the rhubarb has slightly softened.
Remove from the heat and lightly stir in the blueberries.
Place the mixture onto a tray to cool.
Preheat an oven to 180C, divide the filling into individual heat proof ramakins or one large heat proof dish. Sprinkle with the crumble mixture (do not press down) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden in colour and the filling is starting to bubble at the sides.
Serving suggestion: Serve with ginger custard or ice cream.
Lemon and ginger posset
500ml double cream
250ml castor sugar
4 lemons (juice and zest) If you can, source good quality lemons – leafy and unwaxed. Amalfi lemons are the best, if in season. It makes all the difference!
20g root ginger (peeled and finely grated)
2 sheets of bronzed gelatin, soaked in ice cold water
Place the cream, sugar and ginger in a medium sized pan and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and then the soaked gelatin.
Stir well and pass through a fine sieve, into a pouring jug.
Pour into ramakins or glasses and allow to set in the fridge for 5 hours.
Serve with the compote of Rhubarb and vanilla. (Recipe below)
1kg rhubarb (leaves and base removed)
350g castor sugar
1 vanilla pod (split and seeds removed)
½ tsp of ground ginger
Cut the rhubarb into approx 2cm slices, along the length of the stem.
Place a wide thick bottomed pan, onto a medium heat and add the sugar, vanilla, ginger and water. Allow the mixture to dissolve.
Add the chopped rhubarb, making sure it is completely coated in the sugar syrup.
Cook over a medium heat, stirring often, until the rhubarb begins to break down and turns into a thick mixture (there should be no water remaining).
Chef’s tip: Forced rhubarb is best for this, as there is no need to peel, you get a lovely colour. Outdoor summer rhubarb can work well but peel before cutting and cooking and replace the water with 100ml of cranberry juice.