Remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes? I loved that movie and all that southern food always looked so good. I'm a northern girl, so I don't have much experience with southern cooking. But somehow, I ended up with a copy of the Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook in my possession. And while looking for something summery for dessert the other night, I cracked it open and stumbled on a recipe for Lemon Chess Pie.
I'd heard of Chess Pie before, but had no real idea of what it is. Apparently, it's a southern thing. Something about the the cornmeal in the filling. It sounded good, so I gave it a try.
I started with basic pie dough from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book, made in my food processor. This recipe is for a 9 inch, one crust pie.
Basic Pie Dough
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3-4 Tbsp cold water
Combine flour, salt and shortening in food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. The dough should hold together, but not be sticky.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface, to about 1/8 inch thickness. I've found that flouring the rolling pin, instead of the dough, works best.
Transfer the dough to the pie pan and crimp the edges as desired. For this pie, I trimmed the excess and then tucked and used my thumb for a fluted edge.
I'll admit, I have a hard time with pie crusts. Very often, they crack on me and I end up with a pieced together pie crust in my pie plate. That didn't happen with this pie, to my great delight, and surprise. It transferred easily and had no rips or tears.
Lemon Chess Pie
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/4 cups whipping cream
1 Tbsp cornmeal
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350F. With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar at high speed until thick an lemon colored. Add melted butter and dream gradually, beating for about 1 minute. Add in cornmeal, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest. Pour filling into prepared pie shell and bake 40-45 minutes, until filling is set. Cool before cutting and serve with fresh whipped cream.