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Musical pairing – Glitter In The Air by Pink
My mother used to make quite a few of our family meals in a large, silver, Waring Dutch oven: Sunday pot roast, soups, spaghetti sauce, boiled potatoes for potato salad and many more dishes that escape my memory at the moment. But one of my favorites was rhubarb compote – although my 10-year-old self didn’t call it ‘compote’ – my 10-year-old self wasn’t as sophisticated back then (said tongue-in-cheek) – it was simply ‘cooked rhubarb.’
Rhubarb grew wild along the fence of our Little House on Ankeny Street – I have no idea who planted it originally or how long the plants had been there but every spring, those giant leaves would be whacked off with a large kitchen knife and the chartreuse green and red stems would be hosed down outside, then carried to the galley-style kitchen, chopped into smaller pieces and tossed into that silver Dutch oven. My mother would add sugar and water, place the domed lid askew on the pot for a bit and cook the rhubarb until it was squishy-soft and falling apart. The tangy scent of rhubarb blending with cooked sugar was hard to resist and I can remember sneaking a spoonful (or two) somewhere along in the process.
Mom would make at least one Strawberry-Rhubarb pie during the season because it was Dad’s favorite, but most of the time we scooped spoonfuls of the pretty, pinkish, sticky-sweet mixture into bowls for dessert. Fast-forward many years and every Spring, I can’t seem to get enough rhubarb even though we have several plants growing in our very own garden. My impatience has caused me to pay more than $3 a pound for the deep ruby stalks beckoning from their residence on the produce shelves. I usually make a batch of jam and at least one Strawberry-Rhubarb pie in honor of Dad but I find that I still enjoy a couple of scoops straight into a bowl for a snack or an after dinner dessert.
I prefer roasting the rhubarb in the oven versus stove top; the finished compote has a more intense rhubarb flavor and oven roasting also allows the sugars to caramelize a bit – the tradeoff is less in volume but I think the overall flavor is worth it.
Adding pink peppercorns give this compote a slight kick of spiciness and without overpowering the rhubarb – pink peppercorns are milder than the usual black variety and add just the tiniest bit of floral sweetness – really lovely.
ROASTED RHUBARB & PINK PEPPERCORN COMPOTE
Makes 2 Cups
- 5 cups chopped rhubarb, 1-inch pieces (approx 1.5 lbs)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 Tablespoon pink peppercorns
- pinch of kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Wash rhubarb and chop into 1-inch pieces; place in large bowl
- Pour sugar over rhubarb
- Add pink peppercorns & pinch of salt
- Mix well and place on a rimmed sheet pan
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes to an hour stirring occasionally, or until rhubarb is soft and tender
- Enjoy all by its little lonesome or use as a topping for ice cream, mix into muffins or other baked goods