These rhubarb fries are the creation of Tim Labonte, executive chef at the Portland Harbor Hotel.
“Growing up we would eat rhubarb, picked fresh from the garden,” Labonte said. “We would dip the end of the rhubarb stock in a Dixie cup filled with sugar to neutralize the natural tartness. This recipe is a direct reworking of those childhood memories.”
2 cups granulated sugar
12 pink peppercorns
2 sprigs of thyme
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed and pods cut to 1-inch pieces
Pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until peppercorns are crushed into little pink specks throughout.
STRAWBERRIES & FRANGELICO CREAM
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 ounce Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur
1/2 cup strawberries, coarsely chopped
1 ounce toasted chopped hazelnuts
Whip cream and powdered sugar until the mixture forms stiff peaks. Fold in strawberries, Frangelico and hazelnuts.
For the batter
1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Water, just to thicken
1/2 pound of rhubarb stalks
Mix all ingredients, adding water 1 ounce at a time.
Batter will seem a bit thick, but you want it just thin enough to thickly coat your rhubarb.
Peel rhubarb stalks and cut into ¼-inch thick french fry-like pieces, about the size of a celery garnish for wings.
Dip stalks in batter, then deep fry at 350 degrees until golden brown.
Place on paper towel and allow excess grease to drain.
Serve a small stack of fries over a generous amount of spiced sugar with cream for dipping.