Pie Recipe: “Grape Expectations”

Eating for a good cause is always fun, particularly if you’re eating pie. For the 3rd Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit, we not only ate our way through scores of delicious recipes to benefit the efforts of Don’t Flush Me (a NYC water pollution awareness project), but we also joined in with our very own pie submission…

The bake-off was held in the final weeks of the grape harvest season, and autumn in New York brings out some of the best grapes in the world… Concord grapes! So, Brian entered his Concord Grape pie, Grape Expectations, a recipe that earned him the Honorable Mention in the Best Overall Pie category

So here it is kids! Time to make your very own award winning grape pie:

What you’ll need:

  • 5 Cups Concord grapes (cleaned and washed)
  • ½ to ¾ Cup granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
  •  1 – 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  •  Pastry crust for a 8 ½ inch pie (any pie crust recipe will do, however I’m a big fan of sprinkling the pastry crust with corn meal. It gives a super-good, textured, old-world flavor)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (or less, to taste)

STEP ONE: Pop the skins!

This is by far the most time consuming and messy part. I suggest turning on the radio and finding your Zen as you begin popping the skins off each and every grape, collecting the pulp in a bowl. Make sure you’re working on a surface that can be easily cleaned (things will get a little purple). A neat trick to popping off the skins is it to pinch each grape at the opposite end from the stem (the pulp will then easily just slip out and fall into your bowl). Make sure you also save the grape skins in a separate large bowl for later use.

You may get tired, but don’t try to skip this step; there are no short cuts here (I’ve tried)!

STEP TWO: Boil them grapes!

Pour the bowl of grape pulps into a large sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil on your stovetop. Let it boil for about 5 minutes. Do NOT add water. You may want to cover the pot with a splatter screen if you have one (sometimes the pulps will try to make a grape escape).

STEP THREE: Mill out those seeds!

Pour the boiled pulp into a food mill or colander. I use an old-school apple sauce mill, but a screened colander will work fine too. Whatever your device, you want to push the pulp through it to separate out the seeds. Again, DO NOT short-cut this step! No one wants to eat a seedy pie.

STEP FOUR: Pour that pulp!

Pour the de-seeded pulp into the large bowl with the grape skins and let ’em rest. The longer the better, but 3 hours should be your minimum. The mixture will turn to that signature pretty purple.

STEP FIVE: Mix it up!

Pre-heat your oven to 400°F. Add your sugar and corn starch to your grape mush, and mix it up with a spoon (don’t use an electric mixer…it’ll get messy). If your batch of grapes are really sweet, or if you like some tartness to your pie, you can also add the optional lemon juice at this stage.

STEP SIX: Pie time!

Pour the filling into your pie crust and pop into the oven for 15 minutes (It’s best to put the pie onto a baking sheet in case the mixture begins to spill over… I hate cleaning the oven).

After 15 minutes, lower the temperature to 350°F and continue cooking for an additional 30-40 minutes (or until the crust begins to brown and the pie filling seems to set).

When you change the temperature, you can also add a decorative cover crust to your pie if you’d like. You can be as creative as you want here. You can roll out shapes and treat your pie like a purple canvas with cut-out shapes of wine bottles, grapes, vines, goats.. It’s all up to you!

STEP SEVEN: Let it cool, kid!

Pie time will be best enjoyed if you give at least 20 minutes before serving. Some even prefer to eat grape pie cold. It’s all up to you and your grape munchin’ friends!


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