Every year I post my recipe for Jane’s World-Famous Award-winning Best-Ever Pecan Pie. It is the single most Googled post from ByJane (although French Pedicure and Tidy Whities are running a close second and third). Last year all the cooking sites and magazines were offering tips on how to make Thanksgiving in a time of foreclosures and economic funk. I pointed out then that the only truly “expensive” part of a pecan pie is the pecans. And my pecan pie demands that you NOT use whole pecans. Chips, bits and cracked up nuts–these are the ones that are the cheapest to buy, and these are what Jane’s Award-Winning, World-Famous, Best-Ever Pecan Pie requires. This year the magazines seem to be sliding toward the inexpensive luxe–and here too, I offer my pie as both decadent and, well, luxe.
The awards were all self-given. But truly, this pecan pie is the best ever. I make it every year at Thanksgiving and every year, people go nuts (!) over it. One year I made two, but that was the year an alleged gourmand* came and inhaled the second one all by himself (gourmand = pig, as far as this fellow is concerned.) It’s truly easy and almost foolproof. Well, the first time I made it, I forgot to put the eggs in and the whole thing set up as pecan brittle, but that was a gastronomical joy unto itself.
Okay, gather ’round while I give you The Secret . (((It’s in the pie plate.))) Don’t use a regular pie plate. You have to use a fluted tarte pan with a removable bottom.
and you’ll need
1 unbaked pastry shell (You can make your own, if you like, but Martha and I, we prefer the Pillsbury pre-made dough.)
Now, take your pie dough round and lay it on top of the tarte pan. Gently, gently pat it down in into place, so that there is dough in all the flutes. Cut off the excess bits all the way around. Place the tarte pan on a cookie sheet for ease of handling.
Now, go forth and make the pecan stuff.
1 C granulated sugar
1-1/4 C dark corn syrup
4 large eggs
1/4 C butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 C pecans, broken
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1. Oven gets preheated to 350.
2. Cook sugar and corn syrup in a pan until the sugar dissolves.
3. Beat eggs lightly and pour into syrup mixture gradually and keep on beating while you do that (or else the eggs will scramble in the corn syrup).
4. Add the butter while beating (I cut it up before hand into bits so it melts easily)
5. Stir in the pecans.
6. Stir in the vanilla (did I mention that you should never ever use anything but Real Vanilla as the Imitation stuff tastes like shit and why would you want to spoil your cooking thusly?)
The Secret, Part II: You’re not going to use most of the syrup. Yes, it will pain you, as it does me, to throw that over which you have labored away, but that’s the trick of the trade. So, to continue
7. Use a slotted spoon to transfer all the pecans to your waiting pie crust.
8. Ladle the syrup onto the pecans until it just tops the crust.
9. Balance carefully on your way to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until set.
Cool pie. Remove the pie on the removable tarte pan bottom and place on a serving plate. Maybe put a doily under it. Maybe not.
Serve with whipped cream (the real stuff, please). Portion numbers depend on how big you slice it, but this is an 8 or 9 inch pie.
*Said gourmand is no longer in the family, but he is still, I think, running a major American cooking school in Napa.