You know that expression, “Easy as pie”? Well, this is even easier. No kidding. This recipe comes by way of my friend Jeff Emery, who not only makes great wine but also this killer dessert. He gave me the recipe over the phone, and as so many recipes are given, it was just a list of ingredients, not much in the way of amounts, loose instructions for the method, and the addendum of, “You get extra points for serving it with vanilla ice cream and rhubarb bitters.” I agree. We like the crumble topping, and the filling is almost just there to sauce it, but you can add more rhubarb to the dish if you wish. By the way, when I say it’s easy? His nine year old daughter was making this on her own (with adult supervision) while he gave me the recipe.
1-2 lbs. rhubarb, or enough to fill the bottom of a 7 x 11 OR 9 x 9 inch Pyrex baking dish half way, sliced 1/4 inch thick*
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pea sized bits and frozen
*You can fill it more or less as you choose, or supplement with sliced strawberries
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the rack in the center of the oven.
Place the sliced rhubarb into the baking pan. (See Chef Notes below.)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar with your fingers or a spatula. When thoroughly mixed, cut the butter into the sugar-flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until a mealy texture is reached. Do not work the crumble so much that the butter starts to melt.
Spread the topping over the rhubarb. Place the dish in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes or until the top is golden and the insides are bubbling and gooey.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Serve warm or cooled.
Chef’s Notes and Tips:
This crumble would also be good with the addition of cinnamon and/or vanilla. I could also see a little cardamom in here as well. I might toss the rhubarb with rhubarb bitters, vanilla extract, or even a little orange bitters. I’d would also be inclined to try cinnamon ice cream with the crumble.
As to the volume of rhubarb — use enough to fill the baking pan 1/2 to 3/4 full. This amount varies in weight depending on the size of the stalks and how wide they are, because once cut this will affect how slices fit in the pan. The wider the bulkier, so you will just have to try this recipe to get a feeling for how much your tastes demand.
The rhubarb bitters mentioned is a bitters used in cocktail mixing by Fee Brothers. A little bit goes a long way to adding interest to various beverages and dishes, including plain ol’ bubbly water.
An interesting note; I was told growing up that Dr. Pepper was made from prunes, but upon tasting rhubarb bitters, I have reached the conclusion that it is made from rhubarb. Which makes sense if you look at the history of sodas as “medicine.”
YIELD: Serves 6
SOURCE: Chef Andrew E Cohen, via Jeff Emery, propriétaire and wine maker Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard