Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wine Braised Spiced Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of springs many treats. Its seasonal window is short, so I try to jump at the chance to use it as soon as it pops up at the market. Recently, I've noticed how rhubarb seems to be gaining popularity as it becomes readily available at health food stores and not exclusively at farmer's markets. It's extremely versatile as it can be used in everything from cocktails or smoothies, to cakes, pies, and jams. One of the simplest preparations is to toss it with aromatic spices and braise it.

I've often sprinkled rhubarb with sugar and roasted it, but when I spotted a fun variation in the recent issue of Saveur, I knew I had to give it a try. Adding a braising liquid to the rhubarb makes it meltingly tender and provides a beautifully flavored syrup. I've taken the liberty of adding wine, which adds some richness and depth of flavor. 

If you're new to rhubarb this is a great way to prepare it. You can use it in a number of ways, but I stirred it into my yogurt the other morning and it was delicious! Try it on ice cream, whipped into butter (for waffles and pancakes), or simply eat it straight out of the pan with a spoon. Happy spring!

Adapted from Saveur, April, 2013

1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
One 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated 
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 1/2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces on the bias 
8 green cardamom pods
2 star anise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the wine, orange juice, honey, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla seeds. Toss the rhubarb with the cardamom, anise, and vanilla pods in a 9" x 13" glass or metal baking dish. Pour the braising liquid over the rhubarb and bake, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Remove the whole spies and serve over yogurt or ice cream.

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