From the Chronicle Kitchen: Pecan Pie from Southern Pies
Keeping it very short and very sweet in the best way with this classic recipe from Nancie McDermott’s wonderful Southern Pies.
Makes one 9-inch pie
Though this holds first place in many hearts when the subject of favorite Southern pies comes up, most people are surprised to learn that it is not particularly old, dating back only as far as the 1930s. I consider pecan pie a brilliant spin on the traditional Southern chess pie, which is the foundation for many of the greatest hits of Southern pies. This recipe for the classic favorite uses dark brown sugar instead of dark or light corn syrup, typical in many recipes. Molasses, sorghum, and pure cane syrup are also popular sweeteners for pecan pie. You could use either perfect pecan halves or chopped or broken pecan pieces. Both are excellent and traditional choices. I love the look of pecan halves, but for ease of cutting and serving, I usually chop them coarsely.
Pastry for a 9-inch single-crust pie (store-bought or home-made)
1 pound dark brown sugar (2 firmly packed cups)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) pecans, chopped or halves
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with crust, then crimp the edges decoratively.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and flour and stir to mix them together well. Add the butter and place the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring and pressing the butter to melt it and combine it with the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Stir well with a fork or a whisk to mix everything together evenly. While stirring gently, slowly pour the warm sugar mixture into the milk mixture. Mix to combine everything evenly and well. Pour the filling into the piecrust and sprinkle the nuts evenly over the top.
Place the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake until the edges puff up and the center is fairly firm, wiggling only a little when you gently nudge the pan, and it is nicely browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Place the pie on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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