This is a very simple dessert that will surprise you. The beauty of this dish is that, like so many great culinary inventions, the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. The chunky apple sauce is served hot, alongside chilled rhubarb compote, with the soured cream third component at room temperature. The result is an elegant balance of temperatures, textures and flavours, with the tartness of the apple offset by the sweetness of the rhubarb, and a strong sour note constantly refreshing and surprising the palate. The difficult thing here is judging the amount of sugar to use, so taste and adjust as you cook. You want the rhubarb to be sweet and the apple to be tart.
Ingredients (6 portions)
4 medium cooking apples*
4 large stalks of rhubarb
300 ml soured cream
½ quill of cinnamon**
150 gm sugar
knob of butter
* I used Bramley apples for this dish, but you could substitute Granny Smiths or other cooking apples.
** Sri Lankan cinnamon is recommended.
|We start with the rhubarb, as this part of the dish is served chilled and thus requires more time than the apple sauce.|
|Cut the leaf end off. If the stalk is green at this end then cut down further.|
The other end of the stalk will probably be dried out (like asparagus spears). If so, cut a few mm off until you expose moist flesh.
|Wash the trimmed stalks, cut into manageable lengths and split them in half lengthways as shown.|
|Now chop the split stalks into a Macédoine (1cm dice).|
|Repeat this with all of the rhubarb, placing the diced pieces in a bowl.|
|Now melt a generous knob of butter (about 20gm) in a large pan.|
|Add the rhubarb and allow it to "sweat" for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Make sure the flame is not too high as you do not want to brown the rhubarb.|
|Now add two thirds of the brown sugar and a very small amount of water (2 or 3 tablespoons).|
Turn the heat down very low.
|The rhubarb will slowly break down to form a sauce.|
|Now squeeze the lemon, removing the pips. There are modern devices for this, but I've got a classical lemon squeezer that dates from the 1950s.|
|Now for the apples. Don't they just look fantastic?|
|Now quickly peel the apples.|
|Cut each apple into quarters, place in a large pan and add the lemon juice and zest.|
|Now add the remaining brown sugar.|
|When cooked, the apple sauce should have plenty of texture and a golden colour as shown in the photo.|
Turn the hot apple sauce into a bowl.
|Now our fruit ingredients are ready to serve. Note how the rhubarb has darkened substantially during the chilling phase.|