An import from England, rhubarb was known in 19th century America as “the pie plant” because that was where it usually ended up – in pies, often paired with strawberries. But I think the rhubarb’s acidity makes it a splendid ingredient in savory dishes, too.
Rhubarb looks a lot like celery, except that it’s usually a fetching reddish-purple in color. It comes in long, slender stalks, with strings running from top to bottom. To eliminate the toughness of the strings, some cooks peel their rhubarb before cooking. I deal with the issue (and more easily, I think) by thinly slicing the stalks across the grain.
Given its high water content, turning rhubarb into a sauce requires little more than cooking it. It breaks down quickly and becomes nice and thick. In today’s recipe, it needed some counter-balancing sweetness, but I kept the sugar to a bare minimum in favor of fresh orange juice.
As for the cut of pork on which we ladle this sauce, I went with the tenderloin instead of its neighbor, the loin. Both are lean, but they call it the tenderloin for a reason. However, this isn’t to say it won’t turn out tough and dry if you overcook it, so be sure to keep your eye on the cooking time and let it rest after you’ve taken the meat out of the skillet.
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Sara Moulton hosts public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and is the author, most recently, of “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”