Monday, January 22, 2018

Recipe of the Week - Killer Southern Pecan Pie

This recipe is adapted from the "Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie" recipe.

After Mom passed away, I inherited several pounds of pecans and pop corn, among other things.  I recently started making use of the pop corn (a subject for another article) and yesterday, decided to make a pecan pie, using the recipe noted above with my own variations.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
4 eggs
1/2 stick of butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups coarsely broken pecans
1 raw pie crust
Enough coconut to cover the surface of the pie

I learned the six "P's" as a weapons training instructor in the US Air Force; "Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance".  Read the directions in their entirety before beginning and plan ahead. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a 1 1/2 quart (or larger) sauce pan, blend and boil the sugar and corn syrup for about 3 minutes.  Occasionally stir with a long handled wooden spoon and watch carefully to be sure it doesn't boil over.  Set aside to cool.  (Don't do what I did.  I put the pan on the back burner where the oven vents.  It kept the mixture way too hot, causing some of the egg white to cook.)

NOTE:  Depending on the amount of water in the syrup mixture, sugar can boil at temperatures in excess of 300 degrees.  Use extreme caution, especially if there are children present.  If the hot syrup gets on the skin, it will stick and cause severe 3rd degree burns.  It does not run off, as water would.  In the time it would take to get someone to the shower and run cold water over the burn area, the damage would be done.  It could cause permanent disfigurement.

While the corn/sugar syrup is cooling:

Remove the pie crust from the fridge (assuming you are using a store bought crust), carefully unroll it and drape it over your pie pan.  Don't try to form it to the pan, just yet.  Let it warm up a bit; it'll work easier.

Cut up the butter into small pieces.  Soften in the microwave, if need be.  This helps the butter to blend into the syrup/egg mixture.

Beat the four eggs together, set aside.

Now, form the crust to the pie pan and check the temperature of the syrup mixture with a candy or meat thermometer.

When the temperature falls below 180 degrees, slowly stir the hot syrup into the egg mixture with that same long handled wooden spoon.  Use a rubber spatula to get all the syrup out of the pan.

Using the same spoon and spatula, blend the vanilla, butter and pecans into the egg/syrup mixture and pour into the pie pan.

Bake for 40 minutes.  Cover the top of the pie with the coconut and bake for another 5 minutes.  Note also, oven times may vary.  If using a glass pie dish, baking time will be longer.  The pie is done when the mixture has "set".  You'll have to use your own judgement to determine what "set" is.  Don't worry too much about making a mistake.  It happens and even if your pie is a little over or under done, it will still be good and you will have gained the experience.

You notice in the photo that my entire pie wasn't covered with coconut.  That idea came at the spur of the moment and I didn't want to risk an entire pie on a whim.  As it turned out, it was a delicious idea!

You may be tempted to try a bite while the pie is still warm.  I was and succumbed to the temptation.  The pie was OK, but nothing to write home, about.  So, I covered it and put it in the fridge.  Later, I cut a piece to take to a friend.  She called that evening and said it was the best pecan pie she had ever eaten; even better than her own.

Well, I had to cut another piece.  And it was to-die-for!  Evidently, the cooling/refrigeration process is necessary to allow the flavors to properly meld, together and obtain the right texture.  As it doesn't really need to be refrigerated to keep it edible, it's stayed out on the counter, since.

Possible variations:

The original recipe called for half light corn syrup and half dark.  I didn't want to buy two bottles, so  I just used the light syrup.

I haven't yet tried these, so do so at your own risk.

A couple table spoons of bourbon added to the mix couldn't be too bad, could it?

Substituting raw sugar, Morena sugar, Demarara or brown sugar for all or part of the white sugar, might also work well.

While the recipe doesn't call for salt, I think a 1/4 tsp. or so would be good.  After all, nuts and salt go together, quite well.  You might also add a light sprinkling of sea salt crystal flakes in the last 5 minutes of cooking, rather than the coconut.  It would present, well.

Future recipes will include dry aged Yankee pot roast, oven-planked salmon and kettle corn.

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