Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kentucky Pecan Pie, Another Dishboy Takeover.

Laura is gone again, and I guess it is becoming tradition that I (Scott) take over her blog for a little while in her absence. I’ll never quite fill her shoes, but hopefully this post will tide you all over until her return (which should be soon)…so here goes:

There are certainly things in this life worthy of compromise, and times where, for whatever reason, it makes sense to settle. However, there are a few things in life that I absolutely will NOT compromise on, under any circumstances. Pie is one of those things. Ken Haedrich authored what is possibly one of the most comprehensive books ever written on pies. Here’s what he says about pie: “Since as far back as I can remember I have simply loved pie. I can’t really explain why. If one loves poetry, or growing orchids, or walking along the beach at sunset, the why isn’t all that important. To me, pie is poetry that makes the world a better place. Pie, in a word, is my passion”. I don’t know Ken, but I have a feeling we’d get along great.

Life is just too short to eat bad pie. It came as quite a shock when I first realized this, but it has been my experience that as our culture increasingly shifts away from “real” cooking and baking, it is getting hard to find people who can still make a good homemade pie these days. That’s a real shame…almost as if we’ve lost a national treasure. I guess some would settle, but I am completely unable to hide my disdain for “institutional” pie.

Do you want to know a little secret? One of the best ways to get me started ranting and raving is to bring up the subject of institutional pies. I’m convinced that Laura does this just for fun and entertainment when she is bored. We’ll be walking through the pie aisle at the grocery store and she’ll nonchalantly mention something such as, “that pie looks pretty decent for a store pie”. Or, there was the time that we had dinner at this chain restaurant which makes pies that are supposedly “just like homemade”. I noticed that I haven’t been invited back since!

Is this what people think pie is now? I’m sorry if this is offensive, but if you received a pie in exchange for money, or if it came in a thin aluminum pan, you don’t really have a pie. You see, you cannot buy pie with money.

I make homemade pie quite frequently, and I do make one compromise…I use the rolled Pillsbury pie crust instead of making my own. I’m sure some of you are now questioning the high moral ground I staked out above. However, I will freely admit that there is no question that a good homemade crust makes a pie significantly better. The problem, however, is that I’ve just never taken the time to learn how to make a good crust from scratch. Plus, a bad homemade crust totally ruins a pie for me (and I’ve had numerous ones made by people who should really consider using prepared crusts, like me!). I like the refrigerated Pillsbury crusts because they are decent, and because I make a lot more pies now that I keep some of these in my freezer/refrigerator. It is quick and super simple to make a pie if you’re not having to also throw together and roll out a crust. If you love pie but find that you’ve not been making pie much lately, try it out. You might find yourself addicted to these crusts just like Laura and me!

So, I like just about every kind of pie. However, I have a special love affair with pecan pie. Pecan pie is generally credited as having been popularized in America by the makers of Karo Syrup, who in the 1930’s were looking for creative ways to sell more corn syrup. The following is the recipe for my favorite pecan pie. This recipe has been used in my family for many years, long before I was even born. I am not aware of the original source, but I did find it interesting that I found several examples of the exact same recipe online, each with the proclamation that this was their family’s favorite pecan pie, and that it “has been passed down for years”, etc. I’m guessing that we all got it when our grandparents clipped the recipe printed on the back of the Karo Syrup label, or some such thing. However it happened…now you have it too. Enjoy!

Kentucky Pecan Pie Printer Version
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup pecan halves (approximately)

Combine corn syrup, sugar, salt, butter, and vanilla. Mix well. Add slightly beaten eggs. Pour into a 9” pie shell (unbaked). Arrange pecan halves on top of pie. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Please don’t cheat and just dump chopped pecans on the top of the pie. I’d roll over in my grave, and I’m not even dead yet!

You should cover the crust with a pie crust shield. This one is designed for a 9” pie plate, but I’ve been able to get it to work on the 9 ½” glass deep dish Pyrex ones as well. Many people advocate using one of these for half the baking time. I find it simpler to just stick it on at the beginning and leave it on for the entire time, and it seems to work just fine that way.

Notes on Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts:
They freeze well. Just be sure to take them out before you need them…they don’t defrost in the microwave very well!

You can use them with 9 ½” deep dish pies, but it helps to roll them slightly larger between two sheets of wax paper. Even for 9” pie pans, rolling them out in this fashion gives better results.

By The Dishboy Scott. Photo by Laura Flowers.


Joanne said...

I like your stoicism on the subject of pie. It's refreshing! This pecan pie looks fabulous.

Unknown said...

Look pie-fabulous

Memória said...

That pie looks absolutely perfect! I love pecan pie without pecans :).

momgateway said...

this looks so good...pecan is my hubby's fav pie...

Monet said...

I agree! Life is too short to eat bad pie. Great post and great pie...job well done!

love lives in the kitchen said...

looovely pie and great picture! i love these checked table clothes!
have a sweet weekend!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Hey Scott,

You know those store pies look tasty, you just won't admit it. I'll keep reminding you.

This pecan pie is seriously the best ever and now I have the recipe! Thanks for guest posting!


RV said...

Slurpp.. It is so perfectly done.

Mari said...

Dear Dishboy, You are my hero to admit (1) you love pie, and (2) you use the Pillsbury pie crust. Why make crust when you have Pillsbury? It works great for baked brie. Just roll that dough around a wheel, bake @ 350 for 30 minutes with some tomato compote on the side and you have secured a return invitation at any dinner party.

Can you also write more about sandwiches especially with bacon?

Veronica Miller said...

"I'd roll over in my grave, and I'm not even dead yet!"~hilarious!

I loved this post so much, just as I have your previous (I only remember one, the evil heart attack breakfast sandwich but perhaps there are some I missed). Have you considered starting your own food blog? I wish you would! Thanks for filling in--you made Laura's absence easier to bear. Tell her we miss her and wish her home soon! BTW, I agree with your stance on pie but for me, it extends to EVERYTHING baked. I am such a snob now when it comes to cakes and cookies, I can't even bear to think about purchasing one at the store. EWWWW! And Pillsbury crust? For shame. Watch some youtube videos, read some food blogs, get some skillz & a food processor and put those sorry crusts behind you. There is no comparison.

Scott said...

Thank you all so much for the kind helps inspire me to keep guest-posting for Laura. To those who suggest that I have my own food blog: I'm definitely not cool enough, or inspired enough, or talented enough to have my own blog and followers. But I have this super-talented friend who is...and I can just piggy back off her hard work (grin). I'll try and post a bit more often though.
P.S. Yeah, I do know I should learn crust...probably some day.

Diana's Cocina said...

This pie absolutely perfect and one of my favorites! Great post!

Xiaolu said...

Great post, Scott, and lovely pecan pie. I definitely have had a few scarring pie experiences at diners and from stores. And you know what, although many people may not take the time to make a good homemade pie themselves, almost everyone I've given my food to appreciates the higher quality of homemade treats (and expresses it). While I've used store-bought crusts for quiches, I must say that I personally feel that if I'm going to spend the effort and money to make my own pie, I need to make my crust too.

Sue said...

I must say that your pecan pie looks beautiful! Don't gasp, but I have never made a pecan pie. My mother never did and my husband doesn't care for them, though he loves pecans(Go figure?!?), so I have never made one! I think I see one in my baking future though, and with my homemade(no-fail) crust recipe:) I got the recipe from a friend two decades ago and it works every time!

Laura left her blog in good hands:)

Cyndy said...

Ah you say you aren't cool enough to have a blog yet you bake pies and write reviews. what more do you need? Great looking pie. And Laura did leave her blog in good hands!

Anonymous said...

How can you tell when the pie is done? I haven't ever baked pie before so I don't quite know.

The Cooking Photographer said...

I used to wonder that too. It's easier if you use a glass/Pyrex pie plate. When the bottom crust is golden and no longer raw looking and the filling is bubbling then your pie is done.


Anonymous said...

I agree with using the pillsbury. I've had fits trying to make crust from scratch, I can never get it to turn out. I don't think it's a crime if I take 1 shortcut when everything else is homemade. I'm looking forward to making this using my pillsbury crust :)

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