Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rhubarb Curd

The above is my standard photo to show the enormity of my rhubarb plant. It's partly that I haven't gotten around to taking a new photo this year, but it's also that this one still quite nicely represents how much the rhubarb likes its spot in the garden. I am delighted that it's so happy; it means that every year, there are ample quantities of rhubarb so I can make my beloved rhubarb-ginger jam while still having enough rhubarb to try some new recipes. Last year, I made rhubarb-oatmeal bars, which were quite tasty. This year, for the first new rhubarb recipe of the season, I made rhubarb curd.

Food 52 is once again responsible. When you're looking at a recipe, on the right side of the page is a list of how many people are looking at other recipes. Four people are viewing rhubarb curd shortbread at this very moment, and very smart people they are because this is another great recipe.

I can't speak for the whole recipe, admittedly. I decided to make the curd but not the shortbread, at least not now. Instead, I paired the curd with a ginger-lemon buttermilk cake. (Because there are still 16 days of May to go, I will write about that later.) I have nothing against shortbread, of course, but I was more intrigued with the rhubarb curd, and so, on this rainy, lazy Sunday, I decided to give it a try.

First, you chop up about 3/4 pound of rhubarb:

Then you cook it down with sugar and a bit of water and then puree it.

Then you whisk together some egg yolks and more sugar along with some butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Slowly, you add the rhubarb to the egg mixture. Meanwhile, you have some water simmering in the bottom of a double boiler, if you have one, and if a regular pot, if you don't. (I don't, so experimented with my pots and bowls to see which ones would work best. I ended up with a medium-large saucepan and a small stainless steel bowl which worked quite nicely.)
And then the whisking begins. Making curd is nerve wracking in the same way that making custard is. You definitely don't want to end up with some version of rhubarb-lemon scrambled eggs, but you also don't want to be whisking into infinity. It had been awhile since I'd made curd (the lemon extravaganza a few years ago may have been the last time), but I remembered that you always have to whisk longer than you think you do and the flame has to be a little bit higher than you feel comfortable with. The recipe said it would thicken in 5 minutes; mine didn't. It was probably on the stove for 15 minutes, thickening slightly but not overwhelmingly. After 15 minutes, I got worried that the eggs were cooking too much, and I took it off. I also neglected the final step of pushing it through a sieve. The curd was plenty silky and smooth without it.

One thing: my rhubarb curd, as you might have noticed above, is not pink. (The curd in the Food 52 recipe was decidedly pink.) Perhaps it was because the rhubarb I used was not particularly pink or perhaps it was those dark orange yolks from the eggs that Beth's hens laid. My rhubarb curd was more apricot-colored, or perhaps a pale butternut squash.

No matter. It was, in a word, delicious. Sweet and tart and smooth and luscious all at once. It would have made a fine dessert on its own. And maybe, another day, it will.

Rhubarb Curd
Adapted from Rivka's Rhubarb Curd Shortbread on Food 52

  • 3/4 pounds rhubarb (about 6 stalks)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
Wash rhubarb and trim as little off the ends as possible. Cut rhubarb into 1-inch chunks. In a small saucepan, heat rhubarb, 1/4 sugar, and water on medium. Cook until rhubarb falls apart and there are no whole pieces left, adding water by the tablespoon if rhubarb sticks to the bottom of the pan. At this point, puree mixture with an immersion blender or push the mixture through a strainer. The first method is definitely easier.

Add a couple inches of water to the pot of a double boiler and set over medium heat. Put egg yolks, butter, remaining sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the bowl of the double boiler and whisk to combine. When sugar has dissolved completely, add the rhubarb puree by the spoonful, to temper the eggs. When all rhubarb has been added, set bowl over pot; the water should be simmering. Continue stirring the rhubarb mixture; after about 5 (or 15) minutes, the mixture will be warm and slightly thickened. At this point, remove from heat. Press through a strainer -- this will give your curd that smooth, pudding-like texture.


EmilyRS said...

That sounds really good! We don't get any local rhubarb but we buy it at the store during the summer. And, surprising to me, I'm a huge curd fan.

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