Take these pork chops. As they sizzled on the grill, I cooked up a compote of rhubarb, ginger, garlic, and onions, that turned out so tangy and rosy-hued, it was too good to keep to myself, which set in motion the “mad scramble”: me pulling out my camera and props, hauling them urgently outside to catch the last of the daylight, while the kids wait on the sidelines with a look on their faces that says, “here we go again.”
When I pulled the chops off the barbecue, they didn’t go to the dinner table as you might expect, but to my “set” where I arranged them this way and that, snapped photos, re-arranged, and so on, until I landed on a satisfactory shot. By the time I was done, the chops were closer to room temperature than “hot off the grill”.
Nobody complained, maybe because they’re just used to it, or maybe because all that juicy pork and rhubarb was enough to distract them from the fact that their mother interferes with them ever eating warm food.
Whether you choose to eat it warm or cold, rhubarb has a captivating flavor. The fact that it adds fiber, vitamin C, and calcium, along with cancer-fighting polyphenols, is an added benefit. And while those fat red stalks may be somewhat mysterious to the uninitiated, rhubarb is no more complicated to cook with than a stalk of celery. One little side note is that the leaves of the plant are poisonous, something you need not be concerned about if you are buying it in a market. What you should worry about is the fact that rhubarb season is fleeting. So go get some and make this. It’s delicious with pork chops, but also terrific with pork loin or grilled chicken.
This recipe is easy enough for a weeknight supper, but you can get fancy with it by brining the chops overnight or using a favorite marinade. With a few adjustments, it can also be turned into a sweet compote that is tasty warm or cold over plain yogurt or hot cereal. Simply leave out the onions, garlic, and salt.
For the compote:
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small diced red onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 4 large stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch crosswise slices
- Juice of 1 large orange
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
- generous pinch salt
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high and saute the onion until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and saute another minute or so. Turn the heat to low, add the rhubarb, orange juice, and ginger, and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb goes tender without completely losing its shape. Add the honey and salt. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
For the pork chops
- 4 boneless pork chops that are about 6 ounces each
- Salt and pepper
Pull the pork chops out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and season both sides with salt and pepper.
Prepare your grill so it’s at a medium-high heat. Brush the grill with oil and lay on the chops. Cook to your desired doneness (I figure about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium). Alternatively, you an cook the chops in a heavy skillet or under a broiler.
Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes.
Serve with rhubarb compote on the side.
Makes 4 servings.