Well, I was getting ready to blog about some knitting, but then I left my resurrected leafy vines pullover in the back of a taxi last night after work. So, how about a concord grape pie instead?
Don't worry, I called 311, and they have a surprisingly organized process for finding lost items. I hope the driver thought a half-completed pullover on size 4 needles was valuable enough not to toss in the garbage. Anyway, the pie.
Most people have never tasted concord grape pie. I don't think I even saw a concord grape until sometime in my twenties, growing up as I did in a Midwestern sea of red seedless from the Jewel-Osco (or Le Bijou, as my high school
french franglais teacher used to call it). But the first time you eat one, you figure out why "grape flavor" Jolly Ranchers, grape Crush, and other grape-flavored junk foods taste how they do. They are all imitating the concord grape, which is more flavorful and, especially, fragrant than you could imagine a grape to be. You think, "Oh! So THAT'S a grape!" And of course, that color is beguiling, the regal color of velvet.
They should be more popular, but they are probably delicate, and lots of people can't deal with the seeds. My approach is to just eat them. The seeds are actually good for you. Chris spits them out. Either way is kind of high maintenance.
Turns out, the seeds make baking with concords pretty high maintenance, too. (Slightly more so even than concord grape sorbet. Yes, I have a problem.) The idea to try a concord grape pie came from our talented neighborhood baker, Emily Isaacs of Trois Pommes Patisserie. Emily makes quite a few unique pies, including this one, and her recipe for grape pie was published a while back in Bon Appétit. I could have just bought one from Trois Pommes, but as you know I like a project and wanted to try it myself since we had a boatload of grapes from the food coop. Now, the published recipe calls for red seedless grapes spiked with frozen grape juice concentrate which addresses the scarcity of concords but also slyly obviates the need for seeding.
The seeding process took about an hour, with a little help from Chris. When converting the recipe for concords, I asked Emily about the seeding and she said, Yoda-like, "it is the only way." She finds it therapeutic and seeds them by the case when there's downtime at the bakery. Cut 'em, seed 'em. Cut 'em, seed 'em. And so on. So yeah. That's why Emily makes the big bucks ;-) It's a lot of work and there's no good way to do it without cooking the grapes a bit and presumably losing some of their oomph. At least the process makes your hands smell good. And really, an hour isn't that long. Do it while you're listening to Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! or the baseball playoffs or The Green Hornet or whatever people listen to on the radio.
Through no fault of the recipe, my crust for this pie turned out, er, blemished. It tastes nice and flaky, but I was (for no good reason) loathe to add water to make the thing stick together, and it was so crumbly that it wouldn't roll out properly. As Jean suggested on Flickr, it looks "rustic."
And what does it taste like? Jammy, but not nearly as sweet as most grape jams. More like a cross between jam and wine, snuggled inside a buttery crust. If you can still find concords around Thanksgiving where you are, the earthiness of this pie might make it a perfect fit between pecan and pumpkin. And of course, since you earn this pie, it tastes that much better.Posted by jess at October 21, 2009 7:47 AM | TrackBack