Monday 23 September 2013

Verjus and grape pie

While I was off swanning about in Australia, the UK was having an amazing summer. Weeks and weeks of hot sunny weather and the occasional cooling shower of rain. As this was the first decent summer since 2006, I was pretty annoyed about missing it.

I did come home to a couple more weeks of good weather, though, and a garden being taken over by triffid-like grapevines. The leaves were too old to harvest for making dolmades, and there were way too many grapes for them all to mature and ripen properly. A bit of thinning was definitely in order.

I had Maggie Beer fairly close to the top of my mind, having had her wonderful ice cream in Australia. Now, she's been championing the revival of verjus for many years, so I thought "The juice of unripe grapes, how hard could it be?" (*spoiler* - not very hard at all). I had a rummage around the internet and found this recipe for DIYing it. Could scarcely be simpler.
 7lbs of grapes is a lot. Our vines could possibly have stretched to that but I was just thinning the fruit - I wanted to leave a goodly amount to ripen. And anyway, I really didn't know what the heck I would do with 6 cups of verjus.
So I used about 1kg. I don't have a food mill, so after washing them I gave the grapes a bit of a pulse in the food processor to break them up, then strained them through a jelly bag. The resulting witch's brew was not attractive.
I let it sit in the fridge over night. Most of the sediment settled on the bottom - which is just how you want it really.
I carefully poured the liquid off into a sterile jar, and there it was. 300ml of beautiful golden verjus. I still didn't know what the heck I was going to do with it.
About 200ml went to deglaze the pan I roasted some duck legs in. It thickened to a light syrupy sauce that was still sharp enough to cut through the rich meat. We had it with sweet potato roesti and some lightly cooked pointed cabbage.
The rest of the jar sat patiently in the fridge.

Then the rest of the grapes on the vine ripened. I was finally in a position to revisit grape pie - a fabulous confection from Heather at Girlichef. Instead of the lemon juice to sharpen up the pie filling, I used some of the verjus. And I substituted pine nuts for almonds because that is what I had to hand.
I used some of my pastry offcuts to make a little vine decoration for the top. I was slightly hampered by a complete brainfart, rendering me utterly unable to remember what vine leaves look like. And also completely unmotivated to step outside the back door and have a look.

Anyway, weirdly inaccurate vine leaves aside, this is a wonderful, wonderful pie.


grace said...

i've never had a grape pie but by golly, i want one!

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Good work making your own verjuice! That grape pie looks wonderful, wish it was mine!

Heather S-G said...

Okay, no joke - I was just contemplating making a pie with some of my grapes. Decision is made...I am making one tomorrow. Yours is just gorgeous...even the vines/lwaves. Thanks fir the shout-out. Oh, and verjus is for sure in my future, as well.

Bettina Douglas said...

an exceptional sequence of photos, really

Rachel said...

Your verjus DOES look like witches' brew at first, but how glorious it is after the sediment settles down. I wonder how long it will keep refrigerated? This looks like just the project for my grapevines next year.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Grace - you definitely should try it.

Leaf - thank you!

Heather - it's such a great pie! Thank you for the recipe!

Mother - thank you!

Rachel - seems to be good for at least a month in the fridge!


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