In New England, in early fall when Concord grapes are ripe, you can smell their strong, enticing aroma before you even see them. You will be walking along and the scent will hit you while your nose and eyes frantically try to find where that luscious smell is coming from. If you have ever eaten grape jelly or jam – yes, that inky dark purple peanut butter companion beloved by kindergarteners – then you know the unique flavor profile of Concord grapes. Deep, dark, rich and so unlike the table grapes that we eat. They are musky and wine-like and their flavor becomes even more concentrated in a pie, which is both tamed and enlivened by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy this open face pie – and do try to make the pastry grape cluster as shown in the photo. It really sets this pie apart.
- 1 batch Pie Crust, Single Crust, chilled and ready to roll out
- 5 cups Concord grapes (about 3 pounds)
- ½ to 1 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons water plus extra
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- Coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray. Roll out 1 dough disc on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round; transfer to prepared pie dish. Crimp edges decoratively or simply create a smooth edge (like in the photo) by rolling the edges outwards and under themselves. Use scraps of dough and cookies cutters to make the leaves. We used the openings of various pastry tips to make the small round “grapes.” The tendrils can be rolled by hand. Place all of these shapes on a baking sheet and refrigerate pie and cutouts while you prepare filling.
- Slip the skins off of the grapes (take one in each hand, press near the bottom opposite the stem end, and apply firm pressure; the entire grape pulp should pop out), reserving skins in a heatproof bowl. Place pulp in a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. The seeds should start to separate from the pulp. Place a strainer over the bowl with the skins and press the pulp through the strainer. Discard seeds. Stir in lesser amount of sugar, taste and adjust. Stir in salt. Combine cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of water to make a slurry, then stir into grape mixture. Cool slightly while oven preheats.
- Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Scrape mixture into prepared crust, dot with butter, and arrange decorative cutout pieces, if using. Whisk together egg and a little water to make an egg wash and brush over crust edges and decorative pieces.
- Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is bubbling. Cool on rack. Pie is best served the day it is made.
- There are seedless varieties around, but we prefer the seeded, as they seem to consistently have better flavor.