Rhubarb Isn’t Just for Desserts

Pork Tenderloins with Rhubarb Chutney 4The thermometer has reached into the 70s, the forsythia are at last in bloom, and sleek, long crimson rhubarb stalks are proudly displayed in our groceries. Spring has at last arrived in New England!

As a cook I look forward to all the harbingers of the season, but none more that the fresh ingredients which start to appear in our markets. Rhubarb, an early entry, is one of my favorites. Typically, I include this fruit (technically it’s a vegetable, but most of use it as the former) in desserts such as crumbles, crisps, or compotes, but this year, I decided instead to make chutney with this colorful new arrival.

This condiment is easy to assemble and holds up well for 3 or more days in the fridge. A syrup of sugar, vinegar, and spices is simmered quickly, combined with raisins and fresh orange flavorings, then removed from the heat. Next, sliced rhubarb is stirred in and left for about 45 minutes to cook gently (off the stove) in the warm mixture. When put over direct heat, rhubarb breaks down quickly and becomes stringy, so this technique insures that the slices hold their shape beautifully.

Pork tenderloins brushed with curry-scented olive oil and then roasted make perfect partners for this sweet and tart spring chutney. Add some fresh asparagus and whipped potatoes as tempting sides.  Leftover chutney–try it on turkey burgers!

Pork Tenderloins with Rhubarb Chutney

6 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 1 /2 teaspoon grated orange zest
6 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons dark raisins
3 cups sliced rhubarb, cut crosswise, 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Pork tenderloins
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins, each 1 to 1 1/4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat

1. For the chutney, stir the vinegar, sugar, water, ginger, and cardamom in a medium non-reactive saucepan (with a lid) set over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the orange zest and juice and the raisins. Bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the rhubarb, cover the pan, and let the mixture stand until the rhubarb is tender but still holds its shape, 45 to 60 minutes.

2. Place a large sieve over a bowl and strain the liquids from the rhubarb chutney into it. Then return the liquids to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat they have reduced and thickened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove the pan from the heat and return the rhubarb mixture to it. (Chutney can be prepared 3 days ahead; bring to room temperature before using.)

3. For the pork, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Brush all surfaces of the tenderloins with this mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at least 1 1/2 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

4. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

5. Place a flameproof roasting pan or a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pork and brown on all sides for 5 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 150 degrees F. Remove and let rest 10 minutes.

6. To serve, slice the pork 1/2-inch thick and arrange, slightly overlapping, on a platter. Spoon some of the rhubarb chutney over the meat and sprinkle with chives. Serves 4 to 5.

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