Curb Market Crawl, Muscadines, New Southern Classics, Salad Dressings, Sauces

Curb Market Crawl – Muscadines

(Hillbilly Grapes)

About a mile or so down the road, where the road widens just a bit to accommodate a bridge, there’s this guy. He has the requisite battered pick up, the frayed plastic-strapped lawn chair, and a propane cooker teaming alive with bobbing brown gold ( goober peas…. boiled peanuts). Most days I pass him by. I’m a fully developed Southern man..I know how to boil my own peanuts… and on the rare occasion that I want some, I do my own. But this time as I was cutting the corners off the road as it winds down towards the Etowah River, my eye caught a new addition to  the ramshackle set up. A small card table stacked high with little quart baskets… each one brimming with those unmistakable black-purple orbs. Muscadine Season has arrived to the Mountains.

Now, I know, it’s a love / hate thing with muscadines – there’s no middle ground, they are an acquired taste. Not everyone can handle that tannin assault of the skins, the uber tartness, or that odd, over-ripe, Mogen David muskiness of the fruit.
But, if you can get past all that, then muscadines are a exceptional addition to your late summer jam and jelly repertoire, a sleeping surprise for fruit pie fillings, an exotic component for your home wine making, and a masterful base for a savory sauce…. – after all, Some people actually like Rhubarb.. which is something I’ll never understand.

I did try to come up with a couple of different ways to utilize the fruit to do something more than just jam. The Muscadine vinaigrette, in my opinion, was a big fat fail. I just didn’t like the way it came out… although, some of you might. It does have a fine flavor although it overpowered everything except the carrots.

Muscadine Vinaigrette
Makes about 2 cups
Ingredients
1 Cup Cooked Muscadine Pulp and Skins (see the Main Preparation Below)
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Cracked Peppercorns
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Grapeseed Oil
Food Processor

  • Place all the ingredients in the processor and pulse until smooth and homogeneous
  • Serve over Field Greens, Spinach or Steamed Carrots
The Savory Muscadine Sauce paired exceptionally well with the Smoked Herb Lamb with Sauteed Summer Peas – which will be coming up in a later post. (I’ll link everything together once all the posts are in.) I think it would also be a creative change of pace for the traditional cranberry sauce with a holiday roast turkey or pork roast.
Savory Muscadine Sauce
Makes 2 Cups
Ingredients
1 Cup Prepared Muscadines (See Main Preparation Below)
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary – Minced
1 Teaspoon Fresh Mint – Chopped
1 Shallot – Minced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper – to taste
Medium Sauce Pan
  • On medium heat, Add the oil to the pan
  • When the oil is hot, add the shallots and rosemary – saute for a couple of minutes
  • Add the Muscadine pulp and chicken stock
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and reduce by 1/3
  • Remove from the heat and add the chopped mint
  • Serve on the side with your favorite hearty roast.
Preparing your muscadines –
As I’ve already said, muscadines can be a bit on the aggressive side. You really have to put the lemon juice and sugar to them to combat a lot of the negatives with the fruit. But, once you have the groundwork out of the way, you have a very versatile base for some truly outstanding pies.
Muscadine Basic Preparation
2 Quarts Muscadines
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Allspice (a pinch, really)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Pairing Knife
Medium Sauce Pan – with lid
  • Half the muscadines and pick out the large seeds with the tip of the knife (Typically, muscadines have only 1 large seed, which is easily removed after halving,  although very occasionally there will be two)

 

  • Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat and cover (The lemon juice will keep the fruit from turning a very unappetizing brown)
  • When they begin to break down – about 5 minutes – stir well to combine all the spices, reduce to low and return the lid
  • Cook for 1 hour (the skins are relatively tough and need a good amount of time on low heat to break them down to be edible)
  • Once the skins are very tender, remove from the heat and allow to cool through – this is your base for the above recipes
To make pie filling, continue…
And add to the prepared pulp
1 Tablespoon AP Flour mixed with 3 Tablespoons Cold Water
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and add the flour / water slurry
  • Cook until it begins to thicken
You can stop here and make:
 
Muscadine Cobbler
Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients
1 Recipe Prepared Muscadine Pulp (See Above)
1 Recipe Jane’s Buttermilk Biscuits (get the recipe here)
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Sugar
1- 9″ x 13″ Pyrex Baking Dish
  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Use a little of the butter to grease the pan
  • Pour the prepared filling into the baking dish and cut 1″ pieces of the dough into the filling
  • Roll out the remainder of the dough and place on top of the filling
  • Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar and dot with butter
  • Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, util the filling is bubbling up between the crust
  • Serve Immediately
 – OR –
Reduce the filling by 1/2 Half and make Fried and Hand Pies
Muscadine Baked and Fried Hand Pies
Makes 8 to 12 Pies
Ingredients
1 Recipe Muscadine Pulp (See Above)
1 Package Goya Empanada Dough (I know, it’s not pie crust. Fried and baked pies need a more durable crust to hold the wet, sugary filling secure. A standard pie crust will just deteriorate when you try to pick it up.  I could give you a  homemade recipe for a sturdier casing for the pies, but I found that the empanada dough works just as good as anything I can make myself…. and besides – they’re already packaged and cut into rounds… and I’m all over that)
3 Cups Oil (for the fried pies)
2 Tablespoons Butter (for the baked pies)
For the Fried Pies:
  • Heat the oil in a deep sauce pan to about 350
  • Place the dough round flat and place 2 tablespoons of the filling into the center of the round
  • Fold the dough over and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork
  • Fry in the oil for 5 to 7 minutes – or until the crust are evenly golden brown and nice flaky bubbles appear
  • Drain on paper towels
  • Can be served warm or chilled
For the Baked Pies:
  • Heat the oven to 375
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray
  • Repeat the filling and crimping as you did with the fried pies
  • Brush the tops with Melted Butter
  • Poke the tops several times with a fork for steam holes
  • Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes – or until the crusts puff and begin to brown
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve

4 Comments

  1. Great ideas for cooking with muscadines. The savory sauce is very intriguing and the cobbler sounds scrumptious.

  2. @TinaPie-wise, I think the cobbler was the biggest surprise. I really expected it to come off with that musky funk that muscadines are so famous for. But it just didnt come through, what we got was a delicious sweet/tart grapiness that everyone loved.

  3. What a wonderful line up of recipes showcasing muscadines! If I had my pick I would take the fried pie and the cobbler. Sometimes those little farmstands have the best produce. Thanks for sharing.

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