Early Season Barbecue

We have been talking about breaking in the new grill for weeks now, but the weather and/or our schedules have not been cooperative.  Over the weekend that finally changed and so grilling season has officially started here at the Bucarpenter household.  I had a couple of fully-cooked half ducks from Maple Leaf Farms and I knew that they would be the main event, so from there it was just a matter of seeing what looked good in the early-season garden and in the greenhouse.  I picked some rhubarb for the barbecue sauce, a bunch of French radishes to snack on raw as a side dish, and a large bunch of baby shallots and a few green onions to put on the grill.  The baby shallots are the new, green growth from a bunch of little shallot bulbs that I scattered last fall, and they are frankly amazing on the grill.  If you have never tried grilling green onions, green shallots, and/or green garlic you should give it a try.

Grilled Duck with Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

If you want to try the grilled green shallots/onions, all you do is trim off the root ends and give them a good rinse, then drizzle them with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Use a vegetable grill pan so they don’t fall through the grates, and cook them until the green tips start to blacken (they get crispy and delicious).  They are fantastic dipped into a Romesco sauce.

Since the duck was fully cooked it just needed to be crisped up on the grill and then sauced with the simple rhubarb barbecue sauce.  Duck on the grill is pretty wonderful because it doesn’t readily dry out, so it provides a larger margin of error than chicken.  There are also few things better than crispy duck skin.  For the barbecue sauce I should have blended it a bit longer to avoid the stringy look of the rhubarb, but that was an aesthetic issue, not a taste issue. I used mature, purple shallot in the sauce recipe, not the green shallots that we grilled.  Onion will work just as well.  This is the basic sauce and you can adjust it however you like–if you like sweet sauce, add more honey, if you like a really mild sauce, omit the crushed red pepper, etc.   Here’s how I put together the tangy sauce:

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce and stake

Easy Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

Seasonal and Savory
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Condiment
Servings 4


  • 2 cups chopped, fresh rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup chopped purple shallot (or onion)
  • 1/4 cup organic tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 cup water


  • Place all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and cook it over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more water. The cooking step is to remove the raw taste of the shallot and the rhubarb, so taste it after five minutes to see if you think it needs more time.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and taste to adjust the seasonings, if needed. This makes about two cups of sauce.
Grilled Duck with Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

I am thrilled to be back into the time of year when I can plan meals around what is growing around the yard!  It looks like we will have a bumper crop of strawberries this year, so I am already anticipating some sweet and savory strawberry recipes.  What’s growing at your house this time of year?  I’m always curious about other people’s garden lives 

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