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Kerry Beal

Saba - Cooked Grape Must

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Last week I stopped by the cooking store where I teach some chocolate classes and found Luca, one of the chefs, setting up for his evening class. Drawn by the wonderful smells I wandered into the kitchen to find out what was new.

Luca pulled out a little 250 ml bottle of the most amazing nectar - Saba Condimento Agrodolce - cooked grape must. He gave me a spoonful to try, and I was hooked immediately. Of course my first thoughts were about how I could combine it with sweet things - in chocolate or drizzled over figs. Then I started thinking how nice a little drizzle would taste on the crispy skin of perfectly cooked Brome Lake duck breast.

I suspect there are some classic combinations for this wonderful stuff, and that some of you will have come up with some more non traditional ones. So let's hear it - what do you do with grape must that I should know about and try?

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Mario Batali sautes a pound of sweet Italian sausage then sets it aside. He then cooks onion and garlic in the reserved juices until tender, returns the sausage to the pan for another three minutes. He adds a pound of mixed seedless grapes, cooking over high until the grapes burst, seasons with salt and pepper and then drizzles saba over everything before serving. This is pretty decadent!

Other ideas: drizzle over foie gras, or figs and mascarpone, even slivers of Parmigiano-Reggiano...it reminds me of a sweetened version of aged balsamico.

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Saba is what traditional balsamic vinegar is made from!

the cooked grape juice..

then aged in 5 wooden barrels for 12 years minimum.

so it gives the the idea of what REAL balsamic tastes like!

Great anywhere from salads, grilled meat of fish, cheeses.. grilled figs with gorgonzola.... duck!!! ice cream!

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i make a foie gras sauce with it in my restaurant which is reduced with stock and red wine, and rhubarb poaching liquid and is served with gingered rhubarb compote and pan perdu...

in my experience, you have to reduce the saba very gently and strain it through cheesecloth when finished..

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i've found several delicious uses for saba (which can also be called vincotto).

1. Finishing sauces, especially meat-red wine reductions, where it adds a fruity, not-overly-sweet roundness. Depending on how much sauce you're making, add anywhere from a drop to a few tablespoons a few minutes prior to serving. It's fairly thick, so it doesn't need any further reduction.

2. As a component in a marinade for poultry. Marinate small poultry breasts or pieces (quail, squab, chicken) in saba, salt, pepper and a touch of olive oil for several hours. Cook as you see fit, though I like to pan-sear them. Be careful, though, as saba has a high sugar content and will burn quickly if your heat is too high.

3. Glaze pork or lamb with saba and spices prior to roasting in a hot oven. See earlier note about high sugar content and potential for burning. 10-15 minutes seems to be the ideal amount of time to get a good caramelized crust without burning.


brian

"Num Num!"

-Julia

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OMG! All I ever put it on is vanila ice cream. Thanks for opening my eyes.

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I just recommended Paula Wolfert's cookbook, a Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, on another thread, and now I'm doing it again. It includes some recipes that use saba as well as a description. I've never tried it--where do you buy it?



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I just recommended Paula Wolfert's cookbook, a Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, on another thread, and now I'm doing it again. It includes some recipes that use saba as well as a description.  I've never tried it--where do you buy it?

I bought mine from the guy who imports it, but he sells it to local stores. In Toronto one of the stores he sells it to is Pusateri's, which is a high end grocery store. I'd check places like that. Perhaps Whole Foods?

I'm loving all these suggestions, I can see I could do a whole meal, from appetizers to dessert with it.

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I just received a bottle of Saba as a gift from a very good friend and tried it last night on some flash-roasted salmon. It was very good - less sweet than balsamic vinegar but with a similar taste profile. Now I am anxious to try it in a dessert.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Today I made Creme Brulee, 6 egg yolks, 6 tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 cup whipping cream. I added 2 tbsp Saba. Baked in bain marie at 275F for 45 minutes or until center still a bit jiggly.

The Saba was a wonderful addition.

My persian dinner guest said that there is a similar grape must product available in Iranian stores, much cheaper and in much larger quantities. Will have to go searching.

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My persian dinner guest said that there is a similar grape must product available in Iranian stores, much cheaper and in much larger quantities. Will have to go searching.

You can also buy jars of pekmez from Turkey and petlimezi from Greece in Middle Eastern groceries. Also, Spanish importers such as latienda.com carry arrop. In each of these the flavor is pure, clean, and concentrated.

Any of the above syrups as well as saba and sapa can be thinned and used as a dip for roasted chestnuts, grilled sausages, or boiled carrots. Or they can be dribbled over mild ricotta or gorgonzola dolce. Also, add a few drops to a boring lamb or beef stew.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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The chef where I work makes a violet mustard with it to be served with the charcuterie plate. It's Yummy.

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Today I made Creme Brulee, 6 egg yolks, 6 tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 cup whipping cream.  I added 2 tbsp Saba.  Baked in bain marie at 275F for 45 minutes or until center still a bit jiggly.

The Saba was a wonderful addition. 

My persian dinner guest said that there is a similar grape must product available in Iranian stores, much cheaper and in much larger quantities.  Will have to go searching.

Recently I've also seen some much cheaper grape must products from Italy, and bought one called Cream of Balsamic fromWhole Foods. It's not as good (IMO) as the stuff called Saba, but I can surely find some uses for it.

The most recent Zingerman's catalog has an Italian (I think) saba-like product made with apples.

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Savory gelato selection of 3: saba, goat cheese, and olive oil with hazelnut "soil". Too out there? Get Shola of SK to make it.

Saba glaze on octopus with marinated olives. (I love octopus)

Saba would be a nice addition to the Vosges truffle with taleggio.


Lisa K

Lavender Sky

"No one wants black olives, sliced 2 years ago, on a sandwich, you savages!" - Jim Norton, referring to the Subway chain.

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My dinner tonight: young beet greens lightly sauteed with sweet onion and olive oil, drizzled with saba, topped with crisp lardons and softly poached eggs. With a side of blanched sugar snap peas drizzled with olive oil and dusted with Maldon salt.

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It looks like I inadvertently made some as posted here. Open it and taste it just off your finger tip and see how sweet it is; then explore. I am eyeing my grapes like a hawk waiting for them to hit the flavor peak so that I can make it again. I would imagine that since it is nothing but grapes, the flavor of the grape is everything as to the flavor of the final product.

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I said I was going to make cartellate and I didn't. I am using grape molasses in the porridge with some broken walnuts, maybe in my mind recalls grano al vincotto. I used to have a Sardinian roommate at university and she used to bring back from home the most amazing pan'e saba. Btw, I think a lot of people call saba, vincotto, pekmez all the same. I know saba is cooked with dry orange peel, wild fennel pollen, cinnamon and cloves. This time a didn't read cArefully my jar and bought a Lebanese grape molasses...ah, it's grape concentrate, sugar and water....I prefer to buy the Turkish pekmez many times over the Italian fancy vincotto that too often taste like vinegar to me.

I love with lamb and mint. And I used to make this cheese appetizer with Gorgonzola dolce and walnuts...

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