Monday, June 16, 2008

Ode to the Chuckle Patch (Or, How to Pickle Rhubarb for 100 Wedding Guests)

Once upon a time, in a loft perched high above downtown Manhattan, there grew a chuckle patch.

This patch was the daytime home to three of the giggliest (and dare I say, hardest-working) girls, who made the office the most fun place ever.

For years, the chuckle patch was abuzz with creativity and laughter, but one day, the chuckles disappeared ....

Located across from the World Trade Center, the patch fell upon hard, chuckle-less times. Countless drinks, lots of desk yoga, and an acquisition later, the chuckles slowly returned.

Though we now spend our days in separate patches, the chuckles abound--even if we are covered in sticky syrup when pickling 25 pounds of locally grown rhubarb for Rachel’s wedding.

piles of rhubarb + 96 canning jars + six cab rides (including one that nearly sacrificed said jars to the taxi-hood gods) + a bride with a cold + a former-TV art director-turned-Sayulita-luxury-home-builder + a little alchemy = endless chuckles

pickled rhubarb
1 lb. rhubarb
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups sugar
1 Tb. Kosher salt
1 ½-inch knob ginger, thinly sliced
Small handful dried chili peppers
1 tsp. cloves
2 whole allspice

1. Boil vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger and spices until sugar and salt dissolve (approximately 5 minutes after coming to a boil).
2. Wash and cut rhubarb into batons – long enough to fill the jar (we used half pint jars and cut stalks into 4” pieces)
3. Pack rhubarb into sterilized jars with a slice of ginger, one small dried chili, a few cloves, and an allspice berry.
4. Pour hot liquid over jars, screw on lids, and allow to cool.
5. Refrigerate for up to one month.

Note: It’s best to treat rhubarb as a refrigerator pickle, as the canning process will soften the fruit to mush.

Serve with:
• Hard cheeses, such as English farmhouse varieties
• Prosciutto and Marcona almonds
• Foie gras or pate
• Arugula and feta, tossed with olive oil and sherry vinegar