Rhubarb is an odd but nutritional ingredient in this barbecue sauce

05/06/2014 1:00 PM

05/20/2014 7:26 PM

Editor’s note: This column originally ran in 2007.

“No ingredient is too strange for a barbecue sauce,” writes grilling guru Steven Raichlen, author of “How to Grill” (Workman). “Some of the best sauces I’ve ever tasted have been enriched with such oddballs as coffee, Coca-Cola (or other soft drinks), whiskey, beer, and even cough syrup.

“Remember, the stranger the ingredients, the more brag power you’ll get from your sauce.”

Well, have we got bragging rights for you!

The Star’s

Rhubarb Barbecue Tenderloin

will make you a believer in the power of strange ingredients.

Plus, nutritionally speaking, rhubarb gets a big thumbs up.

At their peak from April to June, ruby red rhubarb stalks contain a fair amount of vitamin A. One of the downsides of rhubarb, also known as the “pie plant,” is that it tends to be so acidic that it requires copious amounts of sugar.

But because this is not a jam or dessert sauce, we cut the sweetness by flavoring it with orange juice, light soy sauce, fresh ginger, onion, garlic and a mere 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Use this easy-to-make sauce to complement lean grilled pork tenderloin. Grilled tenderloin takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, and at less than 3 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving, it is at least as lean as a skinless chicken breast.

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Shopping tip:

Rhubarb is a member of the buckwheat family. Choose long, celery-like stalks that are free of cuts or blemishes. Highly perishable, the stalks can be kept wrapped in plastic up to three days in the vegetable crisper.

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Cooking tip:

Feel free to make the sauce a day ahead. Raichlen recommends allowing homemade barbecue sauce 24 hours to “ripen so the flavors merge and blend.”

Rhubarb Barbecue Tenderloin Makes 4 servings 2 teaspoons olive oil 1/2 cup chopped onion 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 cup chopped fresh rhubarb (cut into 1/2 -inch pieces) 1/4 cup dark brown sugar 1/4 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons light soy sauce 2 tablespoons water 1 pound pork tenderloin

Heat olive oil in small saucepan. Cook onion, ginger and garlic over medium heat 3 minutes. Add rhubarb, brown sugar, orange juice, soy sauce and water. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and place in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Remove half of barbecue sauce and place in zip-top bag. Add tenderloin, seal bag and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

Preheat grill or allow coals to burn down to white ash. Drain tenderloin and discard marinade. Grill tenderloin 20 to 25 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. During last 5 minutes, baste generously with remaining barbecue sauce.

Per serving: 234 calories (24 percent from fat), 6 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 74 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 324 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

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