As I look out of my window, the aspen leaves are dancing in the cool breeze. Autumn is definitely here, and this year has been especially beautiful. There is something about this time of year that makes me want to cook from sunrise into the wee hours. It also makes me want to create lavish dinners and bask in the goodness of all that’s in season.
Last year at this time, I was feeling inspired to serve up some Piedmontese dishes (think Barolo risotto with roasted wild mushrooms and shaved Parmegiano Reggiano . . . you get the idea) for some equally food-obsessed friends. As an accompaniment, I created a thyme infused black grape sorbet to serve right before the main course, and it was a hit.
So this past weekend, I planned another seasonal harvest dinner and was determined to make the sorbet again, but this time with California grenache grapes I found at the market. If vintners can create great wine from grenache, I thought I would see how it fared as sorbet, along with fresh-cut thyme from our herb garden. Not only are the colors just beautiful, but the flavor is a journey — sweet ripe fruit and the savory thyme are an elegant pairing.
Grenache Sorbet with English Thyme
by Stephanie Kunstle
- 1 lb. 4 oz. (556 g.) grenache grapes on stems
- 4 sprigs English thyme (each about length of your index finger)
- 2 c. sugar
- 4 c. water
- pinch of sea salt
- Rinse grapes and pick from stems, rinse thyme sprigs.
- In a medium saucepan, stir to combine grapes, sugar, thyme sprigs, water and salt.
- Bring to a boil and let simmer, stirring occasionally and mashing with a potato masher, for about 20-30 minutes until much of the color leaves the grapes, the thyme is well infused, and the mixture cooks down .
- Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the fruit to extract all the juices. Discard the grapes and thyme. Cool in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
- Once the infusion has been chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to its instructions (ours took about 30 minutes or so). It will still be quite soft, so you will need to store it in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.
- Scoop and serve garnished with fresh thyme sprigs.