Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chess Pie

Who of you out there hasn't heard about chess pie? I've been reading about it since I've been online (1999), but I've never made one or tasted one. Still - it's iconic. Amazingly, I always thought it was some combination of "black" and "white" ingredients. Guess I'm way wrong! Here are two recently published recipes. I chose these because there is "ches" in the author's name :) From The Montreal Gazette Online Chess pie: two versions of Southern classic LESLEY CHESTERMAN, The Gazette Published: Wednesday, January 16 Q: I'm looking for a recipe for the "chess pie" that I tasted over the holidays in a restaurant in Hilton Head, S.C. I had never seen this before but apparently it's a Southern classic. A: I first tasted chess pie in Charleston, S.C., and remember it as buttery and sweet with a slight citrus edge - not to mention rich! Though best made into individual tarts - the filling is quite soft -you can make a large tart, but I'd advise refrigerating it before slicing. I've included two recipes here. The first is the classic vintage recipe from a 1963 issue of House and Garden magazine. The second is a from a 2000 Gourmet magazine, a recipe acquired from the Morrison-Clark Inn restaurant in Washington, D.C. If you find the traditional chess pie a little dull, the second recipe, with buttermilk, cornmeal and nutmeg, is worth trying. Chess Pie Serves 6 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter 1 cup (250 mL) sugar 3 egg yolks 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated lemon rind 1 teaspoon (5 mL) grated orange rind 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt 2 tablespoons (30 mL) lemon juice 9-inch (22 cm) pastry shell, uncooked, or 6 individual tart shells, uncooked Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190C). Cream butter and sugar and add egg yolks one at a time; beat thoroughly after each addition. Blend in grated rinds, salt and lemon juice. Fill the pie or tart shells and bake for about 30 minutes. Lemon Chess Pie Serves 8 Coconut crust: 3/4 cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour 1/3 cup (75 mL) unsweetened dessicated coconut 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sugar Pinch salt 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1/3 cup/80 mL) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces 2 1/2 tablespoons (37 mL) ice water Lemon filling: 6 large eggs 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sugar Pinch salt 6 tablespoons (90 mL) buttermilk, well-shaken 3 tablespoons (45 mL) yellow cornmeal 4 teaspoons (20 mL) finely grated fresh lemon zest 6 tablespoons (90 mL) fresh lemon juice Pinch freshly grated nutmeg 1 stick (1/2 cup/125 mL) unsalted butter, melted Make coconut crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, coconut, sugar and salt several times to mix. Add butter and pulse until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with remainder in pea-size lumps. Add water and pulse just until mixture forms a dough. (Do not overmix or pastry will be tough.) Flatten dough into a disk, then chill, covered in plastic wrap, for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch (30 cm) round, then fit into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. Crimp edge and prick bottom and sides all over. Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 15 minutes, then carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until pale golden, five to 10 minutes more. Transfer shell to a rack to cool five minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 F (160 C). Make filling: Whisk together eggs, sugar and salt until well blended. Whisk in buttermilk, cornmeal, zest, juice and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in butter until smooth. Pour filling into pie shell. Cover edge of pie crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. Bake until custard is just set, about 40 minutes. Transfer pie to rack to cool completely.

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