I love the mighty muscadine, the “Grape of the South.” It has a heart-shaped leaf with a toothy edge and green tendrils. How much more romantic can a plant be? The fruit the vine bares, plump, greenish-bronze or large, purple orbs, clump together in artistic harmony announcing to all that fall has arrived in the Southeast United States. Sweet wine, grape-hull pie and muscadine Sherbert come to mind. Muscadines and their cousin, scuppernongs, are native to the Southeast but especially honored in the Carolina coastal zones, where they were first discovered and propagated by colonists.Recently Paul and I were on a road trip and spotted an old pickup truck with a hand painted sign on the side saying, “Muscadines”. We quickly turned and found wild, beautiful, freshly picked, thick-skinned, purple bunches of these first signs of fall. Six dollars got us a bag full and we happily shined them on our shirts and popped them into our mouths. We rolled down the windows to spit out the seeds while juices rolled out of the corners of our mouths..
It is hard to describe the taste; a heavy, grape flavor with a tartness the beams through especially when you eat the skin. I dare say they have a slightly musty taste. I am already planning what I will prepare with these big orbs. Never wanting to walk down the conventional road, I Googled recipes but couldn’t find one that matched my vision ….I wanted to create a fruited sauce with a little kick to use on chicken or pork. The following is what I finally decided on. Simple but oh-so Southern!
Recipe: Muscadine Sauce
*All measurements are approximate
4 cups purple muscadines. Hulled and seeded
2 medium shallots finely sliced not chopped
1/2 stick of butter
Pinch of salt
Tsp. of pepper
1-2 gloves of garlic finely chopped.
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup muscadine wine
Cut the muscadines in half and take the seeds out. You can do this with your fingers or a small paring knife.Discard the skins or save for extra juice in your sauce.
Sauté the shallots and garlic in butter. Flavor with the salt and pepper to taste. Add the grape hulls and cook approximately two minutes then add chicken stock and wine. Reduce the liquid to about half or until it is the right consistency to pour over the meat.
I served this sauce over fresh chicken tenders. I seasoned the tenders with garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and a little cumin. I heated the cast iron skillet really hot with a little olive oil, and blackened them.The result was a delicious and healthy meal! So delicious that Mr. Michael cleaned his plate. Nothing pleases a cook more than an empty plate!