Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving... a story and a recipe

Pecan Pie
photo courtesy of istockphoto.com
About 16 years ago we were invited to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter and son-in-law and go to his parents' home for dinner. My contribution was to be my famous (in the family) pecan pie, two of them.  However, we were driving from Portland to Seattle a couple of days before Thanksgiving and I didn't want to make the pies too early, so I gathered the ingredients and a couple of pie pans and off we went.
On T-day morning I set to work in the kitchen only to discover that one of the pie pans was one from a local pie shop, a pan manufactured with perforations in the bottom which the shop had used to keep the crust from getting soggy. I had never used this pie pan but thought it might work just fine to keep my crust nice and crip.  One certainly doesn't want to show up at a good cook's house with a pie with a soft crust!
I made my pie dough, rolled it out, and lined my pans with the dough and made the usual fluted edge.  I cooked the filling and poured the hot filling into the crust and quickly popped the pies into the oven. 

Yep, you guessed it. 

It wasn't long before we smelled something burning.  The hot filling melted the butter in the crusts and the whole mess was running out the holes in the bottom of that pie pan and spreading across the bottom of the oven. 
I cried. I laughed. My family laughed at me, and then rushed to help me recover. We scurried to cool and clean the oven. I returned the good pie to the oven and tossed the ruins of the other one... and showed up with only one pie since we had no ingredients to make another at the last minute.

My reputation as an exceptional pie baker was only slightly tarnished because one thing this family likes better than pecan pie is a good story.
I've been asked to bring two pies to my daughter's house on Thanksgiving Day, one pecan and one pumpkin.  I'll use glass pie pans.
Here's my Thanksgiving gift for you....


1 c. dark Karo                                   
3/4 c. sugar                                      
3 eggs, slightly beaten                   
3 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 c. pecans, broken, plus a few halves to decorate the top.
Line pie plate with pastry.

Boil syrup and sugar together about 3 minutes.  Pour slowly over eggs, stirring well.  Add butter, vanilla, and nuts.  Turn into pie shell.
Bake in moderate oven, 375°,  50 minutes or until done.  Pie will be done when completely puffed across top.
Sometimes I toss a big handful of chocolate chips into the crust before I pour the filling in, making this a Chocolate Pecan Pie.
Novella was the mother of my childhood best friend as and made the world's best pecan pie. After I moved away and returned to visit there'd be a pecan pie waiting on her kitchen table. The ingredients are not so different than most but the method is slightly different in that the syrup and sugar are boiled first and then poured ever so slowly and carefully into the eggs. That cooks the eggs a bit before it all goes into the oven.

I wish I had a picture of MY pie for you but I haven't made my pies yet.  The pumpkin pie recipe I use is the one on the Libby's label.

I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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