Three little letters. P-I-E. But they can strike fear. There is the prospect of shrinking crusts (!), tough pastry (!), and gummy dough (!) for one. Add a pinch of “meeting the boyfriend’s family for the first time” and you have yourself a down-home recipe for a thanksgiving disaster.
That is, if you don’t have the right recipe. And if the family doesn’t happen to be one hundred and ten percent wonderful. For me, both turned out to be quite lovely. I was lucky enough to spend five days a few hours north of Portland with some very special people and enough food to feed a forest.
Of course, there was the dinner of turkey with two kinds of stuffing, sliced cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes dug from the field next door. But there was also venison sauerbraten. Lasagna. Pistachio cake. Cheese. Lots of cheese. Tangerine poppy seed bread. Red wine. Bourbon. And beer. Lots of beer.
Plus a whole roasted porchetta-style pig with a cider reduction. Coriander beets. Rosemary roasted potatoes. And cooked down kale greens. To name a few.
In the early morning hours, bright orange hats and warm coats went out in search of deer. And when the sun went down, the hunters came back in search of beer. Cocktail hour started at 4:30 pm sharp. Dinner for twelve at a long table followed. As it turned out, these were my kind of people.
And though no deer found their way to the house, it didn’t matter. The holiday housed a lot of laughs. Some board games. A hefty dose of football. And pie.
This pecan pie did not escape as easily as the deer did. In fact, one leftover slice was hunted by many the morning after thanksgiving. There were no rifles involved, thank heavens.
Just a few loaded fistfuls of pecans and a nice balance of gooey caramel, not overly sweet in nature. A perfect compliment to the buttery crust. And a pie straight from Joanne Chang’s pastry playbook, of the Flour Bakery + Café fame.
It wasn’t the world’s pretty pie, mind you. But it didn’t matter. It was delicious. And an easy target for the hunters. Being just P-I-E, and all.
- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces in total
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp half and half (or cold milk)
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 2½ cups pecan halves