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Cooking

Taking stalk

It’s rhubarb’s time to shine.

By Adam Ried
May 16, 2010

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Rhubarb with other ingredients is like a great dance partner: spry, supportive, convivial, and just contrary enough to keep you on your toes. With a tart flavor that all but shouts “Spring!” rhubarb plays off silky, sweet, golden mango in the crumble, while the spiced pork tenderloin exploits its savory potential. In a nod to tradition, the spritzers pair rhubarb with its most devoted, timeless culinary companion, the strawberry.

Rhubarb-Mango Crumble

Serves 8

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ cup packed brown sugar

Salt

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

¾ cup sliced almonds, toasted

2 pounds rhubarb (about 7 stalks), cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

2 large or 3 medium mangoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (3 generous cups)

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. To make the topping, in a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, ¼ cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 18 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon vanilla to combine well. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until crumbly clumps form, about 40 seconds. Add the almonds and process just to incorporate, about 10 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.

To make the filling, in a large bowl toss the rhubarb, mangoes, remaining vanilla, remaining granulated sugar, the cornstarch, and 18 teaspoon salt. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart baking or gratin dish and pat into an even layer. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, gently patting it into a thick, even layer. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the topping is browned and the fruit filling is bubbly around the edges, about 40 minutes, rotating the dish halfway through the baking time. Cool on a wire rack at least 20 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb-Port Sauce

Serves 6

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Kosher salt and pepper

4½ tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pork tenderloins, 1¼ to 1½ pounds each, trimmed

2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/3 cup)

1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 orange

¾ cup port

¾ pound rhubarb (about 3 stalks), very thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Adjust the oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the coriander, ginger, 2 teaspoons thyme, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and ½ tablespoon brown sugar. Rub each tenderloin all over with 1 teaspoon oil and half the spice mixture, and set aside.

In a very large ovenproof skillet heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it ripples. Add the tenderloins, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until well browned all over, turning them about once every 1½ minutes, about 6 minutes total. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the center of the meat reaches 140 degrees, 12 to 17 minutes, turning the tenderloins over halfway through the roasting time. Transfer the tenderloins to a carving board, cover loosely with foil, and rest until the pork reaches 145 to 150 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, taking great care with the hot skillet (see Kitchen Aide), place it over medium heat, add the remaining oil, and allow it to heat for a moment. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 1½ minutes. Add the orange zest and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the port, and scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to dissolve the brown film, about 45 seconds. Add the rhubarb and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb breaks down, about 10 minutes, adding the remaining brown sugar and any juices accumulated from the pork after 5 minutes. Press any large chunks of rhubarb against side of pan with a spoon to break them up, add ¼ teaspoon of salt and the butter, and stir constantly to incorporate it into the sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Add most of the parsley and stir to mix. Thinly slice the tenderloins, arrange on a warm serving platter with the sauce, sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and serve at once.

Strawberry-Rhubarb spritzers

Makes about 2 cups of syrup

½ cup sugar

1½ teaspoons grated zest and ½ cup juice from 1 or 2 oranges

¾ pound rhubarb (about 3 stalks), very thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

1 cup sliced fresh or thawed frozen strawberries (about ½ pint)

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

Salt

1½ quarts sparkling water, cold

Ice cubes

In a large saucepan, stir the sugar and orange zest until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the orange juice, ½ cup water, rhubarb, strawberries, cinnamon stick, and a pinch of salt, set the pan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until rhubarb and berries break down to a pulp, about 15 minutes. Cool the mixture to room temperature and strain through a medium-mesh sieve, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

In each of 8 12-ounce glasses, gently mix ¼ cup syrup and ¾ cup sparkling water. Add ice cubes and serve at once.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

KITCHEN AIDE

Hot pan-handle safeguard
The pork tenderloin recipe employs a technique I use often – browning, roasting, and making a sauce all in the same ovenproof skillet. Having just emerged from the oven, the pan’s handle is screaming hot. Here’s a trick I use to avoid burning myself: I slip a long oven mitt over the handle as soon as I get the skillet onto the stovetop.