Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia photo via Flickr/desta

Harvest Friuli Style: Brovada

Making the most of grape pomace and turnips

Come November, vignerons across the Northern Hemisphere are bracing themselves for the finish line: they are puffing their chests, widening their stride and pressing, pressing, quite literally, towards the end of harvest. The red wine fermentations that they have been minding so carefully have bubbled to a stop; skins and seeds have been shoveled from tanks and gallons of wine have been laid to barrel. But, before they can hunker down with a bottle of Jim Beam, something must be done with all that pomace — the skins, seeds and stems from the freshly fermented red wine.

This is roughly what grape pomace looks like, by the way:

Fortunately, the Italians have thought of everything.

Besides making Grappa, the most obvious thing to do with pomace — if you live in Friuli-Venizia Giulia, at least — is to bury turnips, which you just harvested from your garden, in the pomace and ferment them until the spring at which time you will dig them up, shave them and serve them with sausages. The many Frascas, or casual eateries located in wineries throughout Friuli (marked on the road by a branch tied with red and white ribbon), offer this brilliant innovation in fermented root vegetables, which is where Bobby Stuckey (Wine Director of Boulder, Colorado’s Frasca) first discovered it and, to this day, considers it to be the best hangover food in the world.

Fortunately, Colorado’s version requires neither pomace (apparently, there is not a whole lot of red wine making in the Rockies) nor seven months.

Here is how Friuli’s unofficial ambassadors to the Western United States get it done:

Brovada

Adapted from a recipe by Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey and Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca in Boulder. 

Ingredients

2 lbs. turnips
5 cups red wine
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup of diced prosciutto including the fat
3/4 cup water
1 small clove of garlic minced
1/2 tsp toasted caraway seeds
1 tablespoon of minced onion
1 fresh sage leaf

Directions

Wash turnips and cover with the wine and vinegar. Cover and let sit in fridge for 45 days. (This is the alternative to simply placing the turnip in a pile of grape must to ferment and get nice and gooey as they do in Fruili; the adventurous can feel free to pursue this route.)

When opening the lid stand back, as the odor can be strong. (If fermenting your turnips authentic Friulianian way the odor will be equally strong when you pull them out of the pile of must with your hands — and you will know this well in advance — maybe you’ll want to wear gloves.)

In a pan over medium heat, render the prosciutto until almost crispy, then add the onion and stir for 1 minute. Next add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Followed by the caraway, stir for 15 seconds, and then finally the turnips and water. Cook till tender, but with a light crunch.

Season with salt and pepper and serve warm with pork sausage.

Try your hand at Frasca’s housemade sausage recipe.