July 2, 2008

Kentucky Chess Pie!

Last week, my friend Nelo gave me a recipe for chess pie. Gert, the cook at the summer camp I went to growing up, used to make chess pie for special occasions. I remember its custardy, rich taste and was anxious to try my hand at making it. I have heard people talk about lemon chess pie or chocolate chess pie, but Gert's chess was plain, and absolutely delicious. The recipe I received is from Saveur, and was simple. I made two- one for Nelo and one for me.

The recipe includes instructions for making the pie crust. I didn't make the crust, I bought a pre-made pie crust I have used before. I didn't have the kind of time it takes to make the crust and make the filling, plus the pre-made crust is a great product. I am leaving out the crust ingredients and instructions here.

1 tablespoon flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg yolks plus one whole egg

Pre-made crust in 9" pan.

Heat oven to 325°. Pour water into a 4-quart saucepan to a depth of 1"; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk together sugar and salt, brown sugar, buttermilk, nutmeg, egg yolks, and egg.

Set bowl over saucepan. Add butter; cook, whisking frequently, until smooth and warm, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; let cool for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into chilled pie shell. Bake until center is just set, 45–50 minutes. Transfer pie to cooling rack; let cool completely before serving, about 2 hours. That's it! This pie is hard to describe, the flavor is subtle. It is almost like a pumpkin pie without the pumpkin. It's not heavy. With one bite, I was transported back to my summer camp, standing in the kitchen with Gert, trying a bite of something new...and the eggs.


JB said...

I have no memory or that pie at camp - but it sure looks ggod now!

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy!
I remember making this in Portsmouth. I think it's a southern recipe.
Gert was an incredible cook.

Suzanne said...

I remember Chess pie from camp. But I have no idea if I ate it or not. I'm guessing that I didn't because, with the exception of banana cream and coconut cream pies I'm not really a big fan of them. I liked Gert's (very salty) fried chicken and chopped liver though.

John Book said...

My mom made this pie for Thanksgiving this morning, after suggesting it to her from the same "Saveur" recipe. I had to do a search because of an inquiry, which lead me to your blog. Is the pie supposed to have a slightly salty taste? It caught me by surprise at first, and the whipped cream we used helped off-set it. I was wondering if it's the buttermilk that had anything to do with it.

Arties32 said...

John- thank you for your comment. I remember that the pie did not taste as sweet as I remembered it but I don't think I realized it was the salt. I would use less salt, I don't know if it was the buttermilk or not. That would be another research question. My guess would be the salt which I will cut in half the next time I make the chess pie. Happy Thanksgiving!