Very Belgian – Le Vrai Sirop de Liege

Now, thinking about it, of course it all makes sense: living in Belgium, yet an expat, why not write about Very Important Belgian (VIB) products?

You’d think I would have figured this one out sooner. No! It took an e-mail from the USA, asking if I have a recipe for Tarte au Sucre (again, a VIB) for me to put 2 and 2 together. And, voila, the VIB was born. Belgium offers an incredible range of food products – besides the chocolate and the beer! – that deserve more of my attention. As I already dedicate a whole site to Belgian beers, it is high time to look around and discover the richness of Belgian food.

First one up: Le Vrai Sirop de Liege, the one and only, true syrup from Liege. The story begins in 1902 in Aubel, when Clement Meurens had a dream: making his syrup known world wide. It wasn’t long before the syrup became a success. In 1947 the image for the syrup was designed and the Vrai Sirop de Liege has been known to Belgians as the blue pot with the blossoming pear trees ever since.The syrup seems to be used by Belgians throughout the meals of the day – breakfast, as part of sauces for lunch or dinner, or a quatre heure (the usual snack time for children, 4:00pm). I personally had it already as a spread but never tried it in food. Something to look forward to now that I discovered this recipe…

Rabbit with prunes and raisins (serves 4)
1 rabbit, cut into pieces
75gr bacon
60gr butter
1dl cognac
12 small onions
1tbsp flour
250gr prunes and raisins (mix)
1tbsp vinegar
1tbsp Vrai Sirop de Liege
thyme, salt and pepper

Wash the prunes and raisins. Let them swell in the cognac.
Roll the pieces of rabbit in the flour.
Melt 30 gr. of margarine in a pan and brown the bacon. Remove and add the rabbit, cook until it is well browned.
Melt 30 gr. of margarine in a saucepan and cook the onions until golden. Add the bacon and the rabbit. Dust with a little flour. Rinse the pan with a trickle of water and pour over the rabbit. Season with pepper, salt and thyme. Cover and leave to simmer for 2h on a gentle flame in the golden margarine sauce.
Add the prunes and raisins with the cognac, leave to simmer for another 50 minutes.
Finish by adding the Vrai Sirop de Liege and 1 tbsp of wine vinegar until the sauce caramelizes. Serve immediately.

(recipe from Vrai Sirop de Liege website)
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