Verjus: A Small London Garden's bounty - Roast chicken breast - Apple and raspberry jam

When I came back to London from my summer break, I found our small garden lusciously overgrown and perfect bunches of grapes, hung above the garden door. My vine was bearing fruit!
We were nearing the end of our English summer so there was no way that these magnificent grapes were likely to ripen and I could not let them go to waste.
I then remembered that I could make  -debs el Hosrom- or verjus the traditional Lebanese store cupboard ingredient which has many uses in the kitchen and comes in handy when lemons are scarce.
Juice is extracted from the unripe grapes, boiled and then stored in air tight bottles to be used in dressings and marinades. The taste is fruity and tangy.

I had never done this before so I decided to proceed with caution. First I collected the grapes and sorted them in order of ripeness. I would use the greenest and least mature to make verjus and I washed and set aside the rest to add to our morning juices. First I put some of the sour grapes in a blender and processed them to a mulch. I then strained the juice and transferred it to a deep heavy based pan. After the initial boil I left on a simmer until it changed colour and reduced by about a third. After it cooled I poured it in air tight bottles which I now keep in the fridge. I use them with vine leaves and other stuffed vegetables, in salad dressings, with roast chicken and finally I added a little glug in my apple and raspberry jam.

I have kept the remaining grapes in bags in the freezer; they will be juiced or used whole throughout the winter hence adding touches of summer to our meals.

 Quick Roast Chicken with Verjus and Garlic

4 chicken breasts, cut in cubes
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs of thyme
4 sprigs of marjoram
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of sour grapes, stalks removed
50 ml verjus
5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil

Serves 4

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C
  3. Roast for 20 minutes and serve immediately.

Use verjus with jams to add tanginess to apples and raspberry.

 Apple and raspberry Jam

600 g apples, peeled and diced
400 g raspberries
200ml verjus
600 g sugar

  1. Boil the apples together with the grape juice until very soft. 
  2. Add the raspberries and mash the cooked mixture with the back of a spoon. 
  3. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. 
  4. Skim off the white foam. 
  5. Cook on low to medium heat for about 25 minutes or until it begins to set.
  6. Allow to cool before transferring to jars.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.