Verjus Turns Sour Grapes into Something Special
For those who wish to use white wine or vermouth as a cooking ingredient but are adverse to using alcohol for whatever reason, look no further than the famous French verjus. The French spelling verjus or verjuice is translated as green juice. However, this applies to the fact that it is made from unripened white grapes and has nothing to do with its green color. Since medieval times verjus was, and is an essential ingredient, in many French dishes. Its delicate tartness makes it perfect to add to all kinds of sauces, condiments, stews and meats. For awhile, especially after the discovery of the lemon, verjus was relegated to the back of the pantry. Recently it has enjoyed a renaissance. Cooks everywhere are beginning to experience the versatility of this fine product. Verjus is a great choice for tasks like deglazing the pan after sauting fish or chicken; it adds just the right touch of tartness to many dishes. But don't stop there. It can be mixed with sparkling water served over ice as a nonalcoholic aperitif. Mixologists are discovering its delicious taste and are making syrups flavored with verjus and herbs as cocktails mixers. Here's a great salad idea using verjus. Take some baby arugula and sprinkle a few handfuls with sea salt (our Trapani Italian sea salt is perfect) and coarse-ground pepper. Then shave an ounce or two of Parmigiano-Reggiano onto it and sprinkle it with equal amounts or verjus and some excellent extra virgin olive oil. Just add enough of the olive oil to coat the arugula leaves. Simply delicious and simple is the only way to describe it.