I like rhubarb once a year, in the spring when it’s in season. I ate way too much of it as a kid, dipped in a cup of sugar, to be able to handle it more often than that. When I ran across a recipe for a barbecue sauce with rhubarb in it on. Dinner with Julie’s site, I decided it would be my “once” this year.
A quick call to my MIL and I was able to stop by and raid her rhubarb patch. That stuff really grows impressively tall! I was a bit intimidated, wondering if small animals ever took up residence in the thicket. My MIL is even shorter than I am, we might not win in a face to face confrontation! Kidding aside, we pulled a bunch of stalks and cut off the tops. I carried them home and was excited to try the new sauce recipe. We’d had ribs twice recently, but this was a very good excuse to once again go pork. Pork out. Eat some hog!
I needed to make the sauce first. I chopped up the equivalent of two cups of rhubarb and put it into a saucepan with ¾ cup of water. I let it bubble away until the rhubarb was softened, about 10 minutes. I set it aside.
Next I drizzled oil into a small skillet and sautéed the onions and garlic until they were translucent and softened as well. I poured the onions into the saucepan and added the rest of the ingredients and let it come to a boil, then turned the heat down to simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes. The sauce had reduced and thickened nicely.
I used my immersion blender to puree it until it was smooth. I set the sauce aside and prepared my ribs. I like to cut them into 2-rib sections, then sear them in a hot skillet until they are deeply browned on both sides. They were boneless this time, so they were already single ribs. I heated a drizzle of oil in the skillet and browned the ribs on as many sides as possible.
The ribs went into an ovenproof dish next, and since I’d put onions in the sauce I didn’t slice them and lay them on top of the ribs this time. I simply spread about a third of the sauce over the ribs, covered the dish with a piece of foil and put them in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.
An hour later, the kitchen smelled sooo good! I pulled the foil off and let the ribs cook for another half hour. I was already about to dive face first into that dish!. Those were some fabulous looking ribs! I let them bake so that the sauce thickened and it all darkened up nicely. I plated the ribs with a side dish of broccoli mac and cheese I’d made the previous night, and we had dinner.
Man oh man, those ribs were good! The rhubarb flavor didn’t get as lost as I’d expected; you could definitely tell the rhubarb was in the sauce. Not real smack in your face flavor, but a mild, zesty kick in amongst the other flavors. We loved it! I had 2 cups of the sauce left and froze it in two portions. It might be a good idea to make up a pot of that sauce and freeze it in 1 cup portions for other times when rhubarb won’t be available. Rhubarb might move up on my list to a two or three times a year thing. I’m still thinking about it!
Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
2 cups rhubarb; chopped
3/4 cup water
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup pure maple or golden syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider or rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
In a small saucepan, bring the rhubarb and water to a simmer and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft. Set aside.
In a small skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft; add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Pour into the rhubarb and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a good simmer; cook for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Puree with a hand-held immersion blender or cool and puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Use as you would any barbecue sauce – on grilled meats, in baked beans or drizzled on burgers.