Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Muscadine Grape Hull Pie

Muscadines, or "scuppernongs" as I've also heard them called (by my grandaddy) are in season at the end of summer, and I've always thought of them as the heralds of what passes, in South Mississippi, as "fall."

Down here "fall" should just be called "slightly less miserable summer."

I don't know many people who do much with muscadines, because although they taste great, they're not as easy to eat raw as grocery store variety grapes. They have VERY tough skins, pulpy innards, and large seeds. Fortunately, when you cook them down, smoosh out the seeds, and then bake them between two flaky layers of pie dough, they soften up considerably, and have a wonderful and unique flavor. This recipe comes from Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies, and the only adjustment I've made is to cut back on the sugar somewhat. Muscadines--or at least, my muscadines--are so sweet on their own that too much sugar actually harms rather than helps the flavor of the pie.

I recommend you add sugar slowly, and taste the filling as you go, until you get it how you like.

Muscadine Grape Hull Pie
Adapted from Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott

1 recipe Pie Crust (for the moment, linked to "Fresh Fig Galette." Same crust.)
1/2 cup sugar**
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 cups muscadine grapes (about 2 pound), rinsed
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T cold butter, cut into small pieces or grated, see below

**original recipe called for 3/4 cup, but we found that to be way too sweet


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Refrigerate remaining dough for use later in this recipe.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt, and stir with a fork to mix well.

Set out a medium bowl and a medium saucepan.

Squeeze the grapes over the saucepan, dropping the pulpy, seed-filled grapes into the pan and placing their thick, sturdy skins or hulls into the medium bowl.

Nancie McDermott, you just own those adjectives.

Add 3 T of water to the saucepan and place it over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and cook the grape pulp until softened and shiny, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the cooked grape pulp to a strainer and place it over the bowl of grape hulls. Press the grapes through the strainer, pushing the softened pulp into the bowl with the hulls while extracting the large, round seeds. Use the back of a large spoon to get as much pulp as possible. 

Discard the seeds and transfer the hulls and pulp back to the saucepan. Cook them over medium heat to soften the hulls, 5 minutes more. Add the sugar mixture and lemon juice to the grapes and stir to mix everything well.

Pour the filling into the piecrust.

Oh mah gawd that stuff smells good.

Either sprinkle the small bits of butter over the filling OR, if you're like me and like to read Cooks Illustrated and pass their ideas off as your own, do this:

Peel the paper off of a stick of frozen butter until you have the called for number of tablespoons exposed. Using a cheese grater or rasp, grate the butter over the pie filling (or whatever) so it is evenly coated.

Freaking awesome, right?? I know I (the writers at Cooks Illustrated) am a genius. I  (the writers at Cooks Illustrated) should probably get some kind of award.


Roll out the other portion of dough so it will cover the pie. Lightly moisten the edge of the bottom crust to help the top crust adhere. Trim away any extra pastry and crimp the edges of the crust down firmly, either with your fingers or with a fork. Using a sharp knife, cut eight slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape and fruit juices to bubble up.

I forgot to include a picture of this part, so here are some muscadines. So pretty.

Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch drips (or not. I did not.) and place it on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. 

Bake until the crust is a handsome, golden brown, and the grape juices are bubbling up through the crust, 35-40 minutes more. The color you're going for here is a light Simba.

Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool for 10 minutes.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or scalding hot if, like me, you have zero self control and start in the second the photographer says you can.

Bye bye, tongue hairs.

From me (and the sous-chef, pictured here): Thanks for dropping by! 


Equestrienne Artemis said...

Thanks for the recipe.

I just lucked into almost 9 pounds of huge (1 to 1-1/2") dark purple, almost black muscadines from, of all places, my Korean owed pan-Asian market, S-Mart in Cary, NC. I had never seen them commercially before.

I have been enjoying them raw from the pound and a half stash I bought a couple days ago. I was determined to get back today if I had to walk the 3 mile round trip and pack them back on foot, but a kind neighbor took my husband back up there. We gave him some of them.

I will either make pie of cobbler, and I also liked the idea I read of just freezing them for natural popsicle-like treats to enjoy anytime, but especially in our summertime, which is also hot and humid like yours are in Mississippi.

I'm saving some seeds to try to plant them at the edge of our woods. I love these grapes!

Oh, the Humidity! said...

They are delicious! They grow like weeds all around a lot of people's properties where I live. We also like to munch them raw. Thanks for stopping by!

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