Nigel Mendham creates a beautifully balanced rhubarb dessert recipe that is full of texture and flavour in this unique twist on a classic rice pudding recipe. The creamy, set rice pudding is complemented by a tangy rhubarb sorbet, tender rhubarb pieces cooked in a water bath, and a warming crunch from the ginger biscuit crumble. A perfect balance of sweet and tart flavours.
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Begin the sorbet the day before, or at least 8 hours before intending to serve. Spread the chopped rhubarb out across a flat tray and place in the freezer. Leave for at least 4 hours until frozen solid
500g of rhubarb, washed and roughly chopped
For the sorbet sugar syrup combine the glucose, sugar and water in a small pan and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and allow the sugar to dissolve into the liquid, then remove from the heat and leave to cool
50g of glucose
150g of sugar
200g of water
Combine the frozen rhubarb and cooled syrup together in a blender and blitz together to form a purée. Pass the purée through a fine sieve and stir through the stabiliser, then transfer to an ice cream machine and churn as per the manufacturer's instructions. Freeze until ready to serve
50g of sorbet stabiliser
Preheat a water bath to 61°C
To make the rhubarb gel, peel the rhubarb and place the peelings in a pan with the sugar and water over a medium heat. Reserve the remaining rhubarb for the batons
500g of rhubarb, washed and roughly chopped
250ml of water
180g of sugar
Bring to the boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves into the liquid, then remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool and infuse. Once cool, strain through a sieve to remove the peelings and weigh out 500ml of the syrup into a clean pan. Reserve the remaining syrup for the batons
Bring the rhubarb syrup to the boil over a medium heat and stir in the agar agar. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes, whisking continuously, then pour into a deep baking tray and allow to set for 20 minutes
5g of agar agar
For the batons, cut the peeled rhubarb into 12cm lengths and divide between 2 vacuum bags, or more if required (allowing even spacing will help the rhubarb retain its shape). Divide the reserved rhubarb syrup between the bags and seal in a chamber sealer. Place in the water bath and cook for 10 minutes
Once the rhubarb gel has set, cut it roughly into chunks and transfer to a blender. Blitz to form a smooth gel, reserving in a piping bag until ready to serve
Once the batons have cooked through immediately remove the bags and place them in a bowl of iced water to cool. Once cool, drain the pieces from the syrup and, slicing at an angle, trim the batons into 4cm pieces. Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
To make the crumble, place the butter and sugar in a small pan over a low heat and gently melt together. While these melt, place the oats in a food processor and pulse briefly to create a coarse flour
125g of butter
125g of dark brown sugar
150g of porridge oats
Mix together the oats, flour and dried spices in a large bowl, then mix in the melted butter and sugar. Stir through the grated ginger and turn the mixture out on to a large piece of baking paper
100g of self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch of mixed spice
2 knobs of stem ginger, finely grated
Flatten the mixture slightly and place another piece of baking paper over the top. Roll out to 1cm thick, then remove the top sheet of paper. Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 20–25 minutes until golden brown
Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the rice pudding in a large bowl. Place over a pan of barely simmering water (being careful not to let the bowl touch the water) and cook for 20–30 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice is soft and creamy
60g of pudding rice
425ml of milk
140ml of double cream
30g of sugar
1 vanilla pod
Discard the vanilla pod and transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming and reserve until ready to serve
Remove the sheet of crumble from the oven and leave to cool a little. Break into rough pieces and blitz briefly in a food processor to create a fine crumble. Transfer to an airtight container amd reserve until ready to serve
To serve, pipe dots of the rhubarb gel across each serving plate, followed by quenelles of the set rice pudding. Divide the rhubarb batons between the plates, scattering over the ginger crumble. Place an extra teaspoon of crumble in the centre of each plate and top with a quenelle of rhubarb sorbet and baby red chard leaves to garnish
1 handful of baby red chard
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