Friday, June 27, 2014

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

I love barbecue sauce. When I shifted my diet to include more plant-based and fewer animal-based entrees, I realized that I wasn’t all that attached to chicken breasts. I was attached to the barbecue sauce I would put on them. I wanted to make my own special recipe, or, more likely, recipes in the plural, since just one probably wouldn’t do. I collected barbecue sauce recipes of all kinds. I’m still collecting them, no matter how similar they probably are to those I already have.

I didn’t imagine I would begin my experimental quest with a barbecue sauce containing rhubarb.

Well, rhubarb it is, then. I’ve got rhubarb plants growing up against the shed in the back yard and they’ve been particularly generous with their thick, juicy, super-sour stems this year. I’ve given some away, made Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce, and Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam, and since I’m also using the grill between rain storms, it was barbecue sauce that fell to me next. And if it is a bit unusual for a barbecue sauce, it’s a mighty delicious one!

This sauce is very simple to put together and cooks quickly. In flavor and texture, it may remind you more of a sweet and tart chutney than something zesty and smoky to slather on a rack of ribs. But it’s really good in that sweet-and-tart-ness. I added a bit of zing to the original recipe with crushed red pepper flakes and something a bit deeper and darker with a splash of molasses.

I served my Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce with grilled chicken breasts (despite the lack of attachment to them to which I attested above), only spooning some on at the end of cooking. The sauce is chunky and I didn’t think it would stick well to a piece of protein that I was flipping on the grill. I suppose I’ve been treating it as more of a condiment than a cooking sauce, especially when I dolloped it on a cold chicken sandwich. It was mighty delicious there, too.

Slightly sweet and fruity, tart and tangy and a tiny bit spicy: Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce was an admittedly unusual place to begin my personal barbecue sauce journey, but I’ll never regret it. It’s too delicious for that!

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from EatingWell magazine, May/June 2014

2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups rhubarb, sliced
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses

1. In a medium-size saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook about 30 seconds more.

2. Add the rhubarb, ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar and molasses. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep the sugars from burning. Reduce the heat and boil gently until the rhubarb is soft enough to break apart when stirred, about 15-20 minutes. Serve as you would any barbecue sauce (although it will be chunkier.)

Makes about 1 ½ cups. Refrigerate leftovers for up to two weeks.

Another recipe like this one: Chinese Style Barbecue Sauce and Marinade

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