Poached Rhubarb with Balsamic, Caraway, and Labneh
Why This Recipe Works
by Tim Chin
I had a dream of perfectly poached rhubarb—tender but intact, with a hint of crispness—sitting on a cloud of lightened, slightly sweet labneh and garnished with a drizzle of sweet-tart rhubarb syrup and toasted caraway seeds. And then I woke up to reality: Rhubarb is notorious for going from crunchy and raw to blown-out mush in a matter of minutes. While many vegetables are held together by sturdy cellulose, the walls of rhubarb cells are a delicate construction of pectin, which weakens and dissolves when heated, releasing the pressure and turning the stalk to goo. That’s fine for pie fillings and jams but it won’t work in my dream dessert. How would I get around this problem? Sous vide, of course. (Don’t worry—I’ll show you how to do this without a sous vide device.)
Cooking rhubarb sous vide not only allows you to nail that perfect texture but also concentrates flavors and even lets you infuse things into the rhubarb better than traditional poaching or roasting methods. And a 30-minute bath is all it takes. The results are consistently tender, perfectly cooked pieces of rhubarb that make for a stunning dessert to welcome spring and celebrate the rhubarb season.
Photography by Steve Klise