bourbon, hibiscus, honey, mustard seeds, rhubarb, Shallots, wine vinegar
This is positively the perfect sauce for lamb. Since Easter is around the corner, wouldn’t this be a great sauce to accompany some lovely slices of rare leg of lamb or lamb chops? It is spring…maybe some asparagus, too? This sauce came about because I saw this gorgeous rhubarb in the supermarket. Seriously, there’s still snow on the ground here, but it must be spring someplace, because there it was.
I made the hibiscus “tea” there in the background. It is a simple way of adding color and a sweet-tart flavor to tea or in this case, a sauce. But it makes a very nice tea, too.
To make the “tea”, I crushed up about a handful of hibiscus flowers, added them to a hot liquid, and then just steeped for 15 or 20 minutes. This is a nice addition to lemon or limeade, black tea, as well as this sauce.
You’ll want to dice the rhubarb into relatively small pieces; the rhubarb cook faster and be absorbed into the sauce better. The dried shallots need to be reconstituted with an equal amount of water. I imagine I could add them, along with the hibiscus to the hot water, but I wasn’t certain how they might behave.
This gave me time to toast the mustard seeds
and then mix the whole mess together, after straining the tea (discard the hibiscus buds). Along the very edge of the pan, you can see some small bubbles. This is what it looks like when the cooking process begins. Cook it for about 15 or 20 minutes stirring occasionally;
the bubbles will get larger as the mixture thickens. Watch it closely and stir more frequently. Remember, if you are serving this cold or at room temperature, you’re going to want it to remain a bit thinner, because it thickens as it cools.
By the way, you can leave the hibiscus out, but it truly adds a lovely note to the finished sauce. Hibiscus flowers usually come in bags, are whole flower buds and are available at Middle Eastern and some Indian markets.
Rhubarb-Hibiscus Bourbon Sauce
- 1 cup hot water or broth
- 2-3 tablespoons hibiscus flower buds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb (about 3 or 4 stalks), cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 3 tablespoons chopped dry shallot or 1 very large shallot, finely diced
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves, orange marmalade or sugar
- 1/4 cup raspberry wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup bourbon (or water)
- 2-3 teaspoon honey or red currant jelly (or to taste)
- Large pinch of salt
Stir the hibiscus flower buds into the hot water. Let stand for 20 minutes, then strain out and discard the buds; set the hibiscus-flavored “tea” aside. Combine the dried shallots and water; set aside for about 10 minutes.
Heat a non-reactive skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mustard seeds, shake the pan back and forth and cook until they begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, except the hibiscus tea and honey; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb softens and breaks down and the mixture thickens slightly.
Gently pour in the hibiscus-flavored broth; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium low; cook until the mixture has reduced by about 1/3 and has thickened slightly. Add the honey; taste and add additional salt if necessary. Serve warm or cold with grilled fish and poultry or roasted pork and lamb.
NOTE: When the bubbles become larger, the mixture is thickening. Remember, the sauce will thicken as it cools.
Rhubarb-Hibiscus Bourbon Sauce Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
Lamb chops aside, the sauce is good enough to eat with a spoon right out of the pan! I love this thick sauce, at room temperature and served with a cheese tray. It’s spectacularly good with a sharp and/or bleu-veined cheeses. This sauce will be delicious with salmon, chicken or pork. The Goddess will be on a quest to use this in other ways…your thoughts are welcome!
If you happen to boil the sauce down too far, just add a couple of tablespoon of water until the sauce returns to the consistency you want.
Enjoy this little bit of spring now! Make it and freeze and have it all year, or freeze some rhubarb and make this fresh during the year…wouldn’t this be lovely at Christmas?