Rhubarb sauce, with a Southern accent

It's rhubarb meets barbecue sauce. Think: 'rhubarb-e-cue' sauce, sweet, with a bit of heat.

The Runaway Spoon
Rhubarb sauce that is sweet but tangy from vinegar with a little kick from ginger and mustard and smoky hit from Worcestershire and paprika.

I have this obsession with rhubarb. I think because it is not something I grew up with and it seems so exotic. It’s one of the many foodstuffs I was first introduced to while living in England, and there is always this mystique around those decidedly British things to me. Plus, the red stalks are so pretty and cheerful when they start to signal that spring is coming in the markets.

Invariably, the checker at the store has to ask what it is – it’s just not very common around here. So maybe the name is a little over the top, but I got tongue tied saying rhubarb barbecue and ended up with this.

I clipped a recipe for a rhubarb sauce from an English magazine years ago, intrigued by the idea of a savory application. It was one of those five ingredient quickies. It hung around my files for years, then when I finally made it, my first impression was that with a little Memphis-style tweaking, I could turn it into a barbecue sauce – the true nectar of my homeland.

And it’s good. Sweet but tangy from the vinegar with a little kick from ginger and mustard and smoky hit from the Worcestershire and paprika. Roasting the rhubarb and garlic brings out the sweetness of both. Its great brushed on grilled chicken or a pork tenderloin, or stir it through pulled chicken or pork, or try it spread it on a burger or a chicken sandwich.

Rhubarb-e-cue sauce
Yield: 1 cup

4 cups of 1-inch pieces of fresh rhubarb
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup water
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon ground balck pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil or foil sprayed with olive spray. Spread the rhubarb chunks evenly on the try, then nestle in the garlic cloves. Spray with olive oil, then roast for 15 – 20 minutes until the rhubarb is very soft.

2. Remove from the oven and scrape the rhubarb and garlic into a blender. Add the water and puree until very smooth. Scrape the puree into a saucepan.

3. Stir the brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire into the rhubarb, then place over medium high heat. Stir in the spices, salts and pepper and stir until well combined. Bring to a low bubble, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened.

Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Rhubarb Crumb Cake

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