Verjuice, Green Juice for Cooking
If you read Australian food magazines, you will no doubt have come across "verjuice" featured in recipes, which was where I first read of this green juice (as in 'vertjus'). Verjuice is made from the juice of unfermented grapes, and is generally used as a substitute for vinegar and/or lemon juice especially when a more subtle tartness or acidity is required. Historically, verjuice was used in medieval European cooking up until the 19th century before it was replaced by the stronger and sharper acidulants of vinegar and lemon juice. So far, the only verjuice that I have come across in Singapore is the one made and bottled by Maggie Beer from the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Maggie Beer's products can be found in select Cold Storage and Jason's supermarkets (try the outlets at Great World City, Tanglin Mall and Raffles City Shopping Centre). I'm a 'sucker' for trying out new ingredients, and have now started substituting verjuice for red wine/white wine vinegar and lemon juice when the latter are called for in a recipe.
This is a lovely recipe for roast chicken using verjuice, but I must confess that it was the use of the asian aromatics ingredients that I fell in love with, and truly, credit must go to the verjuice that it did not overpower the aromatics but instead added that right touch of acidity and tartness.
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Chop 3 cloves garlic, 1 knob of ginger and 1 red chilli into very fine dice.
- Place the chopped aromatics (garlic, ginger and chilli) into slits cut between chicken breasts and thighs and stuff the balance into the spring chicken. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Brown the chicken in hot olive oil in a cast-iron pan (this was another opportunity for me to use my Caphalon saute pan).
- Transfer to preheated oven and roast for 25 minutes or so.
- Remove chicken from pan and leave to rest covered for another 10 minutes or so.
- In the meantime, deglaze the pan using 1/4 cup verjuice, reduce over high heat, then add 2 tbsps of cream, and reduce further.
- Remove pan from heat source, and add 2 tbsps of butter and stir into sauce until it melts.
- Serve sauce over chicken.
- Wine accompaniment: 1996 Stag Leap's Wine Cellar Chardonnay Napa Valley
Chicken breasts which had been seasoned with salt and black pepper, are placed in heated olive oil in a sautepan to seal the meat until slightly browned.
About half a cup of verjuice is then added to the chicken and braised over low heat for about 15 minutes (cover pan) or until the meat is tender. Set aside chicken.
Add half a cup of chicken stock to pan and reduce. Just before the end, add a knob of butter to make a smooth sauce for serving over the chicken meat.
Both dishes turned out pretty well, thanks to recipes adapted from Maggie Beer's Cooking with Verjuice. Looks like verjuice is going to feature quite frequently in my grocery shopping lists.