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Concord Grape Pie

Dessert, Pie | November 14, 2015 | By

MUSIC PAIRING: Counting Crows, August and Everything After

Pie should be a food group. Like, we should be required to eat three servings of pie a day. I mean, there’s fruit in it sometimes and there’s like 0.1 grams of protein in butter so doesn’t that qualify as nutritious? 

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Pie is one of my favorite things on earth. I know I have a lot of “favorite” foods that I share with you and maybe I should classify them in tiers so you can really understand. Like, Twix is my favorite candy bar but I could really care less about candy bars so that fits into the bottom tier. Fried pickles are definitely a favorite so they’re in a close running to be in the top tier. However, there is no division for me between biscuits, macaroni and cheese and pie which lead the tier o’ favorites by a landslide. Frankly, if I could squish them all into one bite, I’d do so and live infinitely in carb heaven. 

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Now, obviously there would be tiers within tiers for pie appreciation. See, I enjoy a good chocolate pie but that ain’t got nothing on cherry or peach in my world. I’m a fruit pie gal, through and through.  

Years ago when Pies ‘n Thighs first opened in Williamsburg, my friend, Rachel, told me all about their concord grape pie and since then, I’ve wanted it. I’ve needed it. Every Fall since Rachel mentioned it, I’ve actually wanted to make my own but my slacker self seems to consistently miss the window for concord grape season and I scold myself. NOT THIS YEAR. 

I looooove concord grapes. While I’ve never had a grape pie before, how in the world could concord grape filling baked between two buttery crusts be bad? It can’t, people. I will say that this pie is a labor of love. You’re working with two pounds of concord grapes and you have to squish each one of them out of their skins, save those skins in a separate bowl, cook the pulp down and then strain it all back into the skins. When I first started out, I was cursing the world because my grapes were cold from the fridge and my fingertips were angry. I also hadn’t had nearly enough coffee. But then, I got into this rhythm and it became oddly satisfying. 

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It’s amazing to me that the skins have this much color. Obviously, we all know that red wine gets its color from the grape skin but I haven’t exactly spent time stomping grapes in my day so seeing the vibrancy of this filling first hand really was something.

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Let it be known that I’m drooling as I type and re-live this pie.

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Hot damn, is this good. It’s tart, it’s buttery, it’s complex, it’s gorgeous…it’s kind of a show stopper honestly. I really wanted to get this post up before Thanksgiving in hopes that one of you will add it to your turkey day menu. It’s simply unique and special. If you can’t make it happen for Thanksgiving, I encourage you to go in search of concord grapes before the season ends. I can promise you’ll be so pleased that you did. 

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Why Counting Crows? Fruit pie makes me think of my friend, Erica, who doesn’t like it. She’s weird about textures and doesn’t like chunky things or cooked fruit which I suppoooooose I can understand. Not without thinking she’s a maniac though, let’s be clear. She and I used to live together and when we weren’t listening to Neil Diamond or 50 Cent – hey, we like variety – we were listening to Counting Crows. Oh, such fond memories of seeing Adam Duritz together in concert wearing a bunny costume. Those were the days.

One last thing since we’re talkin’ pie. Allison wrote this fabulous and fun article on wine and pie pairings for the holidays and you can’t miss it! Pairing desserts with wine is really tough so Allison worked hard to find these awesome suggestions that I highly recommend you check out.

I sincerely wish each of you the most wonderful, special and fulfilling Thanksgiving. May you all be surrounded by the love of family and friends, good food and pie! 

Recipe by: Irene Bouchard 

Concord Grape Pie
Makes one 9" double crust pie.
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For the Crust
  1. 2 1⁄2 cups flour
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 18 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  4. Ice water as needed
For the Filling
  1. 2 pounds concord grapes, stemmed
  2. 3⁄4 - 1 cup sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  4. 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Make the crust. Whisk flour and salt together in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, work butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in up to 10 tablespoons of ice water, one at a time, only as needed for the dough to come together. Stir dough with a fork until it just holds together. Press dough into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Give dough several quick kneads until smooth. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Make the filling. Slip pulp of each grape out of its skin into a medium saucepan, put skins into a large bowl and set aside. Cook pulp over medium heat, stirring often, until soft (about 8–10 minutes), then strain into bowl with skins, pressing on solids with the back of a spoon. Discard seeds. Set aside to cool completely. Stir sugar and tapioca into grapes and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°. Roll the larger dough ball out on a lightly floured surface into a 12" round, then fit into a 9" pie plate. Transfer grape filling to pastry bottom and scatter butter on top. Roll the remaining dough ball out on the lightly floured surface into a 10" round, cut a 1" hole or several slits in center of dough to let steam escape, then cover filling with pastry round. Fold edges of dough under and crimp edges.
  4. Bake pie for 20 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue baking until pastry is golden brown, 45–50 minutes more. Set pie aside to cool completely.
Notes
  1. I like things on the less sweet end so I went with 3/4 cup of sugar. Additionally, I couldn't find the tapioca so I used an equal amount of cornstarch as a substitute. Next time, I'd do 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon if using cornstarch as I'd prefer the filling just a wee bit firmer.
  2. I served this pie with cinnamon whipped cream but a nice dollop of good vanilla ice cream would be superb.
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