Another fine thing to do with rhubarb

May 29, 2008 at 7:51 pm 1 comment

Rhubarb chutneyMy house smells amazing right now, and it’s all because of rhubarb.

Well, rhubarb, spices, cider vinegar and a recipe one of my LiveJournal friends shared today, which made me think of the four stalks of Rheum rhabarbaraum still sitting in my vegetable drawer, suvivors of last weekend’s rhubarb-pear crisp.

It’s original with my friend; she found it on the Web, and it appears to be everywhere – in fact, if you Google the word “Bifana,” you’ll find it on just about every recipe site under the sun, usually credited to Michelle O’Sullivan of Las Vegas, Nev. (or, more often, to nobody at all, this being the Internet.)

The dish may or may not be related to the Portuguese bifana, a popular snack made from marinated and pan-fried pork cutlets served in a crusty roll. This recipe, rather, calls for roasting a pork tenderloin basted in a magnificently flavorful rhubarb chutney – and the chutney is what caught my eye, because (a) I love chutneys and (b) I thought I had most of the ingredients in the house, including that wonderful almost-fresh rhubarb.

“Thought” is the operative word here. As it turns out, the gingerroot in the vegetable drawer had gone moldy, and I didn’t feel like a trip to the supermarket tonight.  So I improvised with candied ginger – the pungent, moist Trader Joe’s variety that isn’t covered in sugar crystals. And I don’t use garlic powder, but fresh minced garlic is always a perfectly good – dare I say “better”? – substitute for that. Since I was in a “what the heck” mood and a little short on raisins, I chopped up a few slices of dried mango (available from Asian grocers) and threw that in, too, because I never met a chutney that couldn’t benefit from mango.

Here’s the recipe. My friend called the flavors “surprising,” and I concur: It’s sweet and sour and slightly hot but not incendiary –  and utterly delicious. I think it’s going to be even better after overnight refrigeration allows the flavors to blend. And easy – other than 15-20 minutes of simmering, it took all of maybe 5 minutes to put together. It’s cooling now, and then I’ll pack it in a container and refrigerate it. This weekend I’ll pick up some local pork to go with it – if I can keep myself from just consuming it by the spoonful.

Oh, and the original recipe, with instructions for roasting the pork, can be found here, among other places.

Rhubarb Chutney


  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root (or use candied ginger and either reduce the sugar or add a splash more vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (or, if you must, garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red chile pepper (or more, if you like your chutney hot)
  • 4 cups diced rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • (optional) 1/4 cup dried mango, chopped coarsely


Combine sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and red pepper in a large, non-reactive saucepan. Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion and raisins. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and let cool.

This makes about two cups. Refrigerated, it should last a couple of weeks due to the high acid content, though I doubt it will get a chance.

Entry filed under: condiments, fruit, recipe, spring. Tags: , .

It’s Memorial Day … Early cherries

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