My father was raised on a farm in Kentucky. Growing up, his mother cooked him all of the Southern classics: fried chicken, okra, black eyed peas, grits, and country sausage. Yum.
But my daddy didn't cook much for me much; that job belonged to my mama--a Yankee!
As I've lived my whole life in the South, Yankees are still kinda exotic to me. And I'm half Yankee, which makes me half exotic. I'll take it.
My mother was born in Ridge Farm, Illinois, and her form of cuisine reflects it. My mother makes things unheard of in the South: her cornbread is sweet; her "dumplins" are actually thin, German noodles; she grew up eating "honeybuns," not cinnamon rolls.
But you know what? I enjoy both cuisines straddling the Mason-Dixon line; my stomach and I are severely thankful that I have a leg in each territory so I can have a wider breadth of food to enjoy!
No matter the regional differences, I have found that both sides of my family can agree on the sanctity of one particular dish: pecan pie.
No matter how you say it (puh-CON, or PEE-can--I say the former!), it's one delectable dish. While growing up, my parents would attempt to make a homemade pecan pie for the holidays, and every year I would hear weeping and gnashing of teeth when they would cut into it. Observe:
Dad: "You mean it didn't set AGAIN?!? AHH!!"
Mom: "It's not MY fault; you didn't know how to make it properly either!!!"
I'll spare you the details, but soon the bickering would spiral into a fuming silence, and my father would feel coerced into purchasing a stale, commercial pie that just didn't quite have the essence of home. And being the people-pleaser that I am, the fifteen-year-old me decided to solve the Kerr family holiday problems by trying my hand at this pie. I picked up the first recipe book I could find, followed the directions, and made it. And it was perfect. And I'm pretty sure it was Providence.
In any case, my beginner's luck absolutely SHOCKED my parents, and they still scratch their heads when I pull this pie out of the oven. But they don't question a good thing, and neither do I--I'm pretty thankful my streak of good pecan pie is still alive!
Pecan pie is the glue that holds my family together. I shall not be in want.
Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie (Serves 8-10)
Print this Recipe
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark--I've had great results with both!)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecans (whole or crushed--it doesn't matter! The only thing affected is the appearance.)
- 1 unbaked pie crust (half of my Granny's homemade recipe)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Cream the butter and the sugar till well incorporated. Mix in flour and salt. Add the corn syrup, eggs, and vanilla; mix ingredients til well-blended. Stir in pecans, and pour into an unbaked pie crust.
Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes, or until there is a slight jiggle when pie is shaken. Allow pie to rest for at least one hour, then it's ready to serve!
***Handy tip: to prevent your crust from scorching, you can fashion "pie shields" out of aluminum foil. Simply wrap strips of foil around the edges when you place your pie into the oven for an even, golden color!