I am kind of in love with this pie. It might not be all that handsome, but it is sweet and rich and humble. It has all those attributes that might make a pie attractive and irresistible.
What exactly is chess pie? Let me tell you: It is a simple, custard-y, old-fashioned, southern plate of deliciousness.
Sometimes when I only have one pie crust and I'm trying to decide what to fill it with I'll opt for chess pie. I always have all the ingredients on hand and really it couldn't be easier.
This is the recipe I like to use from Southern Living. The cornmeal and vinegar keep it humble but don't let the odd ingredients scare you.
prepared pastry dough for a one crust pie
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Roll out your dough, trim, flute edges and prick with a fork and use beans or pie weights to keep the crust from shrinking. I use this awesome Williams-Sonoma pie weight that my favorite in-laws gave me for my birthday last year.
3. Bake crust for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pie weight. Cool the crust completely before proceeding to the next step.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Stir together the cornmeal, flour, salt, butter, milk, vinegar and vanilla. Add the beaten eggs stirring until well combined.
6. Pour the filling into the crust.
7. Shield the edges with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning (my crust got a little browner than I typically like it because our oven isn't calibrated properly so I have to watch things and I got distracted, but it was still so good!)
8 Bake for 50-55 minutes or until set. Remove the foil the last 10 or 15 minutes of baking and allow the crust to brown.
9. Cool completely on a wire rack. The pie should be fine at room temperature for a day or two (if it lasts that long) but if you're worried, keep it in the fridge.
Can you almost taste that buttery, custard-y goodness? It is really rich and pairs well with a glass of 2%. You really only need a sliver but it's so good you might want seconds. Lemon chess pie is a good classic southern variation. I also love it with freshly whipped cream.
Two things--1. the recipe says you can use margarine or butter. Just say no to margarine. Butter all the way, baby. 2. Opt for pure vanilla extract. I know it's more expensive but it is so much better than artificial vanilla flavoring.
You should try it. Seriously. Grab a fork. Let's go