The last time Rachael Sheridan, buyer for Cube came into the studio she was schlepping the biggest ceramic pie pan I have ever seen. Tucked into it was a pie made of Champagne grapes. It was delicious. Cut to me, one more time shopping at Ralph’s, standing in the produce section wondering what I’m doing there, when my eye spies these huge nearly black seedless grapes. Apparently they are a new consumer variety. So I immediately stole one and popped it into my mouth; it was sweet, deep flavor and addicting crunch. I grabbed two giant bags, one for mom, one for pie. I’m not sure why but I immediately thought of saba, the molasses like concentrate of wine must or mosto, and since I knew I didn’t have any at home I thought of pomegranate molasses. Didn’t have that either so I bought a bottle of fresh pomegranate juice to make a reduction.
Got home and put mom to work taking the grapes off the stems and cutting them in half. They were really big and although I knew cutting them would mean more juice to thicken I was afraid that they wouldn’t break down enough in the pie. While mom was dealing with the grapes I put the 2 cups of pomegranate juice into a saucepan with 1/2 cup of sugar and brought it to a lively boil. Then turned the flame down just a touch and let the sweetened juice simmer until I was left with about one quarter of what I started with. A thick sweet-sour syrup perfect for adding depth of flavor to the grapes. I let the mixture cool that poured it over the grapes with another half cup of sugar and a good three quarter cup of flour – tossed to mix. I used my standard butter crust recipe but got creative with the venting. As you can see I used a small biscuit cutter to create a design of a bunch of grapes. I started the pie at 400 degrees for 20 minutes then turned it down to 350. After about 45 minutes I took a peak to see if the juices were thickening. The answer? Not enough. But I didn’t panic because I had the magic Dorie Greenspan butter custard in the back of my mind (1/3 cup sugar, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons melted butter). I pulled the pie out of the oven and was grateful for all those holes I had punched into the top crust. I carefully spooned the butter custard mixture into the holes, using a thin knife to help the mixture move into the pie. Put the pie back into the oven at a little higher heat, 375 degrees for another 15 minutes. The juices thickened perfectly. Once cooled the pie cut into a beautiful non runny slice. And what a flavor! The pomegranate juice reduction was a genius move I must say.