Monday, June 17, 2013

Rote Grütze

Rote grütze is a thick red berry sauce or pudding, and a great way to take advantage of fresh summer fruit. 
The finished product is a wonderfully brazen shade of red. 

The recipe here is based on something I ate in Germany once upon a time.

In Munich, there's a fantastic gourmet food shop called Dallmayr
Coffee, tea, fruit, jams and honeys, chocolate, delicatessen, breads...
The displays, the color, the variety, the scents, the organization- quite something to see, and I think Dallmayr can be a destination in and of itself.
The closest thing I can think of as it's counterpart here is Dean & DeLuca (to give some sort of an idea- but that's not exactly right).

My version of rote grütze may be a bit different, not as thick as what may be expected, but it's based on what I had that day of exploration in central Munich: a cold and creamy vanilla bean rice pudding with a sweet and tart red berry sauce on top.
It was perfect.
I liked it so much that I wrote down the ingredients so I could try to replicate it at home.

One slight challenge for me was that while currants are more widely available in Europe, and used seemingly quite often, they're not as easily scouted out here in the US.

Currants are tart and beautifully shiny little berries, offering a punch of acidity to the mix with some of the sweeter and more familiar berries.
They can be found every now and then on their stems and boxed like clusters of bright red or black pearls, but they're not the most predictable bit of produce.  Though they might be in season, I can't say I'd be able to rely on them being present when I want some. So, I used red currant jelly instead. It's beneficial in two ways: as a flavor addition, and as a bit of a thickener because of the pectin it includes.

The dessert is neither ordinary nor cloyingly sweet. Instead, it has a slightly robust hit with the boost it gets from tart currants and bit of tannin from the red wine.

Ideas for serving:
on vanilla bean rice pudding
on ice cream
with pound cake and whipped cream
between layers of a cake
with custard
... or you could serve it as a dessert soup with a dollop of whipped cream

Rote Grütze
makes a generous 4 c/ 1 qt (1 L)

10 oz (285 g) raspberries
8 oz  (225 g) black cherries
8 oz (225 g) strawberries
6 oz (170 g) blackberries
1/2 c (125 ml) red wine
1/3 c (70 g) sugar
2 T (30 ml)  water
2 t (6 g) tapioca starch
1/2 c (165 g) red currant jelly
fresh lemon juice (to taste)

Rinse the raspberries and blackberries gently in a colander and drain. 
Rinse the cherries, pit and quarter. Rinse the strawberries, hull, and cut into pieces about the same size as the other fruits. 
Combine berries with sugar and red wine in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Mix the water and tapioca starch together in a small bowl to form a slurry. Stir the slurry into the cooked berries and return the pot to the heat, stirring constantly 2-3 minutes while the tapioca starch thickens the sauce. You will be able to see the cloudiness disappear and should notice the sauce thicken slightly.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully remove about half of the sauce and berries to a blender or food processor. Give the mixture a few short pulses to break down the berries. Add the red currant jelly and pulse again to incorporate.
Pour the mixture back into the pan with the unprocessed berries and stir to make sure the jelly melts and spreads throughout the mix.
Stir in lemon juice to taste (I would start with 2 t/10 ml).
Let the finished rote grütze cool (it will continue to thicken as it cools), then cover and refrigerate.
Serve as desired.

This amount would serve a crowd as a dessert topping, it can be stored in the refrigerator for use all week, or even canned or frozen and saved for later.

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