Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Verjuice Vinaigrette Recipe

Verjuice actually means "green juice."  It is an acidic liquid made from unripe sour grapes (or crabapples).  It was used in Roman cookery, but was very popular in Medieval cooking, and even used into the 19th century.  It is very popular in Iranian cuisine and is starting to be given more attention in modern American cookery. It was also used historically as a medicine.

Verjuice is a good substitute for lemon juice or vinegar. It has a sour taste but fruity and not quite as sour as vinegar. It's mostly found in recipes for salad dressing, soups, stews, and sauces. 

Here is a recipe from Le Menagier de Paris, a French medieval book written in the late 14th c. in the voice of a  husband to his 15 year old bride.  There are over 380 recipes in the book: 

Mutton with Yellow Sauce
The Good Wife's Guide,  Le Menagier de Paris, A Medieval Household Book.  Translated, with Critical Introduction, by Gina L. Greco & Christine M. Rose, Cornell University Press, 2009.

Cut the meat--it must be flank--into pieces when completely raw.  Cook it in water, then grind a piece of ginger and some saffron and thin it with verjuice, wine, and vinegar.

Here is another recipe that uses verjuice, from a cookbook published in New York about 400 years later:

No.12 To Make a Sauce for a Sweet Pie
The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook; Also The Making of English Wines. 
by Sussannah Carter. New York: 1803. 

Take some white wine, a little lemon juice, or verjuice, and some sugar; boil it, then beat two eggs, and mix them well together; then open your pie, and pour it in. This may be used for veal or lamb pies.

I was experimenting with verjuice and came up with this recipe for a salad dressing.  I really like it because by using verjuice there is a lot of flavor and sweetness without adding any sugar. 

Verjuice Vinaigrette

1/2 cup verjuice (you can order verjuice at
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix altogether and shake.  Serve on a salad of your choice.  That's it!

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