My rhubarb is taking over its corner of the garden, its leaves hugely extravagant, its stalks brilliant crimson, thick and meaty. This is a problem for a person who doesn’t eat sugar, as rhubarb is one of the sourest things you can put in your mouth and live to tell the tale.
But I remembered reading somewhere that in some culture (guess I didn’t read it very carefully, did I?) they eat sliced raw rhubarb dipped in salt. Hoping against common sense, I tried that, and now I’m here to say: don’t under any circumstances do that yourself. It’s actually a rinse your mouth out right now combination as far as I’m concerned, and that was after just the tiniest nibble.
Undaunted, or at least only partially daunted, I continued to search online for savory rhubarb recipes. And Bingo! I found an Italian recipe for Faraona Brasata con Rabarbero e Cipolle Rosse. Doesn’t that sound mouth-watering? Translated as Braised Guinea Hen with Rhubarb and Red Onions it still sounded good, so I waltzed out to the garden and twisted off a thick stalk of rhubarb. That’s one stalk down, forty to go, but still.
I tweaked the recipe a little to make it even lower carb, and because guinea hen is just plain unavailable in these parts. You can see the original recipe here, and my adaptation follows. It’s a slightly sweet, slightly sour, silky and tender concoction with an intriguing flavor profile. Even Shel, a confirmed rhubarb-hater, thought it was delightful. It’s so good that now that I have discovered this dish I’m going to freeze a lot of my rabarbero so that I can make it all year round. And when I get back to France I’m definitely going to try it with guinea hen, which I find delicious. I can only imagine that made with faraona this dish will be even better than it already is, which is saying quite a lot.
So try it, even if you think it sounds peculiar, surprise yourself.
Chicken With Rhubarb And Red Onion
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/2 lb diced rhubarb
salt and pepper
4 T olive oil
5 T butter
1 small red onion, chopped
2/3 cup dry white wine
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan. Generously salt and pepper the chicken. Brown the chicken in the hot oil until golden brown on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate and drain the oil from the pan. Do not wash pan.
Melt the butter in the pan, then add the red onion and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft. Pour the wine into the pan and scrape to deglaze any brown bits. Return the chicken to the pan along with any juices accumulated on the plate, reduce heat to low, cover pan, and simmer for 25 minutes, turning chicken pieces once or twice during cooking.
Stir in the rhubarb, add another sprinkle of salt and pepper, cover the pan again, and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes, until the chicken is meltingly tender and the rhubarb is tender but still holding its shape. This makes a lot of delightful sauce, so if you do eat carbs, serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta to soak up the sauce. If not, do as I did and just eat the sauce with a spoon. It’s that good.