Saba is the cooked down wine must, which concentrates all the flavors into a sweet syrup.
I have a confession- I am a saba junkie! I have several bottles from various trips all around Italy where i have found regional versions. Vin cotto is another name and sometimes it is made with figs instead of grapes (Puglia).
Most often I have had saba drizzled in fried desserts, used like honey.
Saba, or cooked wine must, is also how traditional balsamic vinegar is made. The grape juice is cooked down slowly over night and then the saba is saved in wooden barrels for a period of at least 12 years, moving it yearly as it concentrates down. Needless to say, that explains why traditional balsamic vinegar is expensive.
But Saba is for everyone and everyday use.
For my recipe I decided to use it as part of my onion jam recipe to serve along side of cheese.
Since Roman times, sheep's milk cheese have been served with honey and pepper. Years ago, more than 10 I believe, I was working at the Macelleria Cecchini, and introduced Dario to Red Pepper Jelly. There was no Philidelfia cream cheese in Italy at the time, so I started serving it with pecorino cheese. A new trend was started in Italy. Now there are several companies producing jams and jellies to serve with a cheese course. My little claim to fame in Italy as the creator or Mostarda Mediterranea at the Macelleria!
In staying local, I visited a nearby farm to get some of their sheep's milk cheese.
|happy sheep make fabulous cheese|
I adore driving up the hill and seeing the lovely herd of sheep grazing out in the Tuscan countryside and then heading down the dirt road and knocking on grandma's door. She opens the shop for us and we stick up on the goodies, the fresher cheese for grilling, a aged one to have after the meal and some of their home made salami.
|some of the cheeses ready to sell|
Back to my kitchen,using the local red onions, part of the slow food protected foods, and slowly stewed them using the mosto to caramelize the onions with brown sugar and one of my home-grown chili peppers.
Warm cheese and a savory but sweet onion jam is a lovely light meal or a appetizer.
Marmellata di Cipolla con Saba
Onion jam with saba
3 large red onions, sliced thinly
4tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup Saba
1/4 cup vinegar
1 Chili pepper( or to taste)
Olive oil or butter
Saute the onions slowly in olive oil or butter until lightly translucent.
Add the chili pepper and saute.
Add the brown sugar, vinegar and saba and turn up the heat to allow the onions to caramelize, stirring constantly, adding water if the jam gets too thick.
The cheese is lightly grilled on a hot skillet, until a light crust forms. Using a spatual, carefully turn the cheese. Serve with the crispy crust and drizzle with some extra saba.
This is also great with meats.