It’s been almost a year since my slab-pie obsession began. (Thanksgiving 2013, to be exact, when 30 people showed up unexpectedly at our house for Thanksgiving — okay, I’m lying, they were invited.) My slab-pie of choice is one baked in a half sheet pan (as opposed to the daintier version described in my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe). But I like them all. I like the crust to filling ratio in slab pies, I adore the presentation, and am partial to desserts that feed a crowd — even the smaller slab pie offers up about four more slices than a traditional pie-dish pie.
I’ve made apple slab pies, inspired, of course, by Smitten Kitchen, black raspberry (or mixed berry) slab pies (recipe coming soon), strawberry rhubarb slab pies, and now, at last, concord grape slab pie. Concord grape pie is pretty special — and not only because making one is laborious (each grape is peeled by hand, painful to contemplate, I know), but mostly because the taste of the filling is like no other. It is tart, sweet, tangy and jammy (not really a flavor, I know, but descriptive of the concord-grape-filling experience, never-the-less).
And developing a recipe for this uniquely special filling is unique and special in its own right, as the internet is NOT — shock of all shocks — bursting at the seams with concord grape pie recipes. Yes, of course, they are out there, but my initial fast and dirty search, revealed Martha Stewart’s concord grape pie, Saveur’s concord grape pie, and Irene Bouchard’s purple passion (she is considered by many to be the mother or queen of the concord grape pie) and that’s about it.
And although I did additional searches in my cover-all-the-bases fashion, the recipes that inspired my own were those first three. They are the simplest — grapes are peeled and de-seeded, pulp is cooked down and then combined with the skins, sugar and thickener. Done. (Other recipes call for chopping the skins and adding bitters and lemon or discarding some of the skins, as well as using raw grapes in addition to cooked ones — splendid additions, all, but lacking the simplicity of a pie filling with a pure grape flavor that i was after).
And simple the recipe is. Time-consuming, yes, I won’t lie, but these very special grapes make for one pretty spectacular pie.
Concord Grape Slab Pie
- Pie dough:
- 2 1/4 cup 2 tbsp pastry flour (I recommend King Arthur flour)
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 sticks 16 Tbsps high-fat, salted butter, cold
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp cold water
- Egg wash:
- One large egg
- 2 tsp heavy cream
- Sugar in the raw for decorating
- Pie filling:
- 5 lbs about 15 cups concord grapes, stemmed and rinsed
- 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 tbsp arrow root
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter sliced into 1/2" bits
- Pie crust instructions linked above.
- Remove the skins from the grapes by pinching each grape until the pulp pops out of the skin, but do not try to scrape the skins clean of all the pulp. A little residual pulp is a good thing.
- Place the skins in a large bowl and the pulp in a medium-sized sauce pan. Bring the pulp to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 to 10 minutes. As the pulp cooks and breaks down, it will release the seeds. once the vast majority of the seeds have separated from the pulp, remove the pan from the heat.
- Place a medium wire mesh sieve over the bowl with the skins, and using a rubber spatula press the pulp through the sieve into the bowl with the skins. Mix the skins and pulp together and place in the refrigerator for two hours.
- Remove the filling from the refrigerator, add the sugar and arrow root and stir well to combine, making sure the arrow root is thoroughly dissolved.
- Place one rolled out sheet of dough in the bottom of the half sheet pan as per the instructions and add the filling. Dot the top of the filling with the butter, and continue to follow the off the charts flaky pie dough instructions for prepping and baking your pre-baked pie.