At the moment we’re right in between seasons for forced and outdoor rhubarb in the UK. As you can see from the incredible pink in the picture, I have used forced rhubarb, but don’t let that put you off using outdoor. It is just as delicious – it just needs to be cooked a little longer.
Feel free to vary the flavours you add to the rhubarb – ginger, orange, a swig of white wine or champagne, a couple of star anise and, especially, vanilla pods will give your rhubarb the edge on that of your mates. Beautifully cooked rhubarb needs proper custard. Just make sure you pour it in front of everyone so they
can see the stunning marbling effect as it happens. Genius!
Rhubarb and custard
- 800g rhubarb, washed and cut into 8cm pieces
- 60ml castor sugar
- zest and juice of 2 oranges
- a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 500ml organic full-cream milk
- 568ml double cream
- 75ml castor sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds scooped out
- 8 large free-range or organic
- egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Place the rhubarb pieces in an ovenproof dish or tray, with the sugar, the orange zest and juice and the grated ginger sprinkled over the top. Cover with foil and cook in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the rhubarb has softened. Taste to see whether you think it’s a little tart and needs just a bit more sugar.
For the custard, mix the milk, cream, 3 tablespoons of the castor sugar and the vanilla pod and seeds together in a saucepan. Bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave for a couple of minutes to cool slightly and to let the vanilla flavour infuse.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the two remaining tablespoons of sugar until pale. Ladle a little of the hot milk mixture onto the eggs and whisk immediately. Add the remaining milk, a ladleful at a time, whisking well before adding the next. Pour the egg mixture back into the warm saucepan and cook very gently for a few minutes, stirring all the time using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. After a few minutes the egg should cook just enough to thicken the custard, but not enough for it to scramble. If you start to see flecks or lumps of egg in your custard, don’t worry; pull it off the heat right away and pour it into a cold saucepan to cool it down a little, then strain the custard through a sieve into a clean jug.
Serve the rhubarb with a dollop of your delicious homemade custard.