Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rhubarb Curd

It seems typical that I wouldn't put up a post in a few weeks and now suddenly have a few different ones that I want to put up rapidly. We'll start with this one:

Ever since a customer dropped off two overflowing shopping bags worth of Rhubarb, I have been on a bit of a Rhubarb kick. I wanted to show my appreciation by using it in as many ways as possible rather than just having a rhubarb dessert and letting the majority of it waste away in my walk in. In doing this, I realized how much fun it is and I've decided to adopt this approach to all of my menus from here on. I love the idea of things changing as the ingredients available to me go in and out of season. Right now you're seeing mostly Rhubarb - with little flutters of Strawberry. In another week or two, strawberries will be dominating. 

So, among several other items, I ran a Rhubarb Tart this past week. It was a  bit of a riff on your traditional Lemon Meringue Tart - Pate Sable crust, Grilled Rhubarb Jam, Rhubarb Curd, Toasted Meringue, Poached Rhubarb, Balsamic Strawberries, Pistachios - with a dollop of whipped Crème fraîche that is just kissed with sugar - and finished with a splinter of crispy strawberry meringue. 

Now, the reason I am telling you about this dessert is because of the Rhubarb Curd that was in it. Occasionally I will have an idea for something and not really have a good place to start - and in those instances Ill spend a while reading and comparing recipes that I turn up via google. Pretty often this leads to total failure, or at the very least moderate failure - but it frames me a bit, giving me somewhere to jump from. 

After searching for a while I realized that nearly every recipe I came across was a slight variation on the same recipe. So I went at it and made the curd and in the end it tasted just like sugar, eggs and butter. A total waste of time. 

So I after 86ing that batch I had to start over from scratch. I decided to abandon my original approach and simply use my 'go-to' lemon curd recipe, utilizing the juice extraction process for the rhubarb that I found in the shitty recipes - and simply replacing the lemon juice with the rhubarb juice. Makes sense, right? The only hitch was that I knew - after the last batch having no discernible rhubarb flavor - I would have to match the intensity of lemon juice. In order to achieve this I had to reduce my rhubarb juice by 1/2 - from 1000 g to 500 g. At this point it was nearly indistinguishable form lemon juice.  

And with that, I present you a reliable, tastes-like-sweet-rhubarb-and-butter, Rhubarb Curd - in metric, like any good pastry chef would want - for the next poor pastry chef desperately scouring the web for a good recipe.

Rhubarb Curd
Yield - I didn't check. I made about 30 x, 90mm tarts with it. 

Rhubarb Juice:
1500 g Rhubarb, Trimmed and chopped into 1" pieces
Filtered Water 

Place rhubarb in medium tail pot and cover with water by an inch or so. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a chinois, pressing firmly on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Scale juice (I yielded exactly 1000g) and return to heat in a clean tail pot. Reduce by 1/2 (Leaving me with 500g) and remove form heat.

Rhubarb Curd:
180 g Sucrose
350 g Rhubarb Juice
320 g Egg
180 g Sucrose
1 x Lemon, Zest of
350 g Butter, Room Temperature
3 g Salt

Combine first measurement of sucrose and rhubarb juice.

Combine egg, second measurement of sucrose and lemon zest.

Combine these two mixtures and heat gently over a pot of boiling water, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens significantly. 

The thickness you get here with determine the thickness of your curd. If you cook it to a nappe/creme anglaise consistency (around 82 C)  - you will have a very loose curd. If you push it way further than you feel comfortable, you will wind up with something that is thick and can stand on its own. How thick you want it depends entirely on its application. Do not be afraid of curdling the egg - as it is very very difficult to do. At Sperrys I made lemon curd almost daily and in my recipe I noted, 'cook until thick like mayo.'

Once you are happy with the thickness, pass it through a china cap. Tap gently on the side to push the curd through - do not press on the inside of the china cap. This can push unwanted solids into your strained curd. In the china cap, you should be left with mostly chalaza from your egg - which may look like small bits of scrambled egg whites. 

Place your strained curd in a bain marie large enough to hold it and the remaining ingredients, and homogenize with a stick blender, taking care not to incorporate air into the curd. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the curd and place in the cooler until it has cooled to 60 C

Once curd is 60 C, begin to emulsify in the butter a little at a time, with a stick blender. Take care to not incorporate air into the curd. Once all of the butter has been emulsified into the curd - season it with the salt, top with plastic wrap on the surface, and place back into the cooler to rest a minimum of four hours, or ideally - overnight. Use as desired. 

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