Concord grapes, also known as fox grapes, are most often used to make grape jelly, grape juice, grape-flavored soda, and kosher wine. These grapes originated in Concord, Massachusetts in the mid nineteenth century. A gorgeous dark-bluish, purple skin, perfectly round globes, and heady aroma make these jewel-toned grapes gorgeous culinary companions. Simmered and sweetened, Concord grapes burst into an autumn garnet shade. Served alongside their fall harvest companions, roasted figs, these grapes transform into a season worthy celebration beginning plate to serve alongside some grower's champagne.
- Wash the grapes and remove the grapes from their stems. Put the grapes in a 4 quart cocotte and add 1/4 cup water. Bring the grapes to a boil, and then reduce heat, to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Most of the grapes will begin to seep their juices into the pot by 10 minutes, but continue cooking until the liquid is a slurry, with grape mash. Remove the pot from the stove and let cool.
- Strain the initial grape juice into a colander over a bowl. Use a damp piece of cheesecloth, folded in half press down on the grapes in the colander until the juice measures 2 cups. Strain the juice a second time through the cheese cloth without pressing to remove any tiny piecs that have pushed through the cloth into the juice. Discard the grape mash.
- Place the grape juice and sugar into a medium cocotte and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the juice begins to thicken. Remove the syrup from the heat, put in a glass jar, and refrigerate until needed. The jelly will thicken more as it cools.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spread 1/4 cup Concord grape jelly over the bottom of a 7.5" round cast iron gratin (or other small oven safe dish). Place the wheel of brie on top of the jam.
- Place 1/4 cup of the Concord jam in a microwave safe dish and heat for 1 minute until the jam is pourable.
- Arrange 3/4 of the figs on top of and around the brie. Pour the jelly liquid over the fruit and brie and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, just until the brie softens but still holds it shape. Place small bunches of grapes and the reserved fig pieces on top of the brie. Serve immediately with warmed bread.
The grape jelly may be stored in a tightly sealed glass jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Don't be tempted to add more sugar, this is perfectly sweetened and ideal for savory preparations. The jelly may be heated and used as pancake, waffle, or ice cream syrup. The seeds of Concord grapes may be swallowed and there is no need to pick the seeds from the roasted grapes--until the 1980's all grapes had seeds.