Monday, April 29, 2013

Atlantic Coast Lemon Pie


When I first heard about this pie, I had to pull off the road.

NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ was on the radio. They were airing a story from food blogger Katie Workman, creator of Mom100 blog, and author of The Mom100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket. Apparently, while vacationing in North Carolina, Katie fell head over heels for a lemon pie. 

I heard descriptions of the pie’s tangy sweetness — along with angry honking from the car behind me — while I scrambled to take notes on where to locate the recipe for this dreamy lemon pie.

If you’ve spent any time along the North Carolina coast, you may have already tasted something like this. The recipe Katie shares is from Bill Smith, chef of Crook’s Corner Cafe in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This is Bill’s version of the lemon pie commonly served at seafood restaurants along the Carolina coast when he was growing up.


The fabulousness of this pie is not in any one ingredient, but rather the combination of a thick, crunchy, sweet and salty crust, and the tangy sweetness of a custard-textured lemon filling. The fact that it’s way easier than any pie I’ve ever met, is also a plus. I took Katie’s advice, and served it with billowy whipped cream on top, but you could make a meringue out of the egg whites not used in the filling. I personally prefer the consistency and flavor of organic heavy whipping cream thank you.

Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie

1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers 
1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter 
3 tablespoons sugar

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8 inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.


I couldn’t help but think about how the lemon filling would taste with my homemade, butter crust. Maybe I could add a bit of fleur de sel, I thought. But when I mentioned this to my husband, he was quick to share his thoughts about how it’s the combination of textures and flavors that makes this pie as fabulous as it is. So, I guess I won’t mess with success! 

Anyone else already familiar with this wicked-good pie from the East?

1 comment:

happygirl said...

Salty and sweet and tart is such a wonderful combination. I'm not a fan of NPR, but I gotta love a food blogger. (shweaty balls) ;)