It’s hard for me to picture a Southern Thanksgiving or Christmas without pecan pie.
So when I was invited to my girlfriend’s family’s dinner this Thanksgiving, I wanted to contribute something that was a Southern classic.
I started, of course, by collecting freshly fallen pecans from her grandfather’s yard.
I wanted to make my pie something a little different than just the recipe off the back of the Karo syrup bottle, so I found a couple of recipes online and scavenged what I liked from each.
The result went over well, though next time I might take the suggestion I saw on one recipe and replace the Karo with grade B maple syrup for a deeper flavor.
Corn syrup isn’t really my favorite thing to use in any dish because, despite being sweet, it’s really kind of empty of any kind of real flavor or complexity. Plus maple syrup is slightly lower in calories than Karo.
For my filling I used
1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups Karo dark corn syrup, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (plus a pinch or two more sprinkled over before baking), 11/2 teaspoons flour, 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 21/2 tablespoons bourbon,
1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters, 11/2 tablespoons melted butter and 2 cups pecans.
That’s for one 9-inch pie.
Mix together the sugar, syrup, salt, flour and eggs first before stirring in the flavor ingredients.
As for the pecans, I prefer to have them whole, or as whole as possible after shelling all of them and then just set them in the pie and pour the filling over it.
The pecans will float to the top and give the pie a natural look.
You may have noticed two or three unconventional ingredients — salt, bourbon and bitters.
Pecan pies are great, but they are always so sweet I feel as if they need a little extra kick and something to cut all the sugar.
The salt and bitters (available at most liquor stores) give the pie a much needed balance.
The bourbon provides a bit of a different spice profile and gives some subtle complexity to a pie that’s usually very straightforward.
Don’t worry, the alcohol evaporates and just leaves the flavors from the bourbon, so this pie is still kid friendly.
I used Bulleit Bourbon which I love to, ahem, cook with. I hear it goes great with eggnog, not that I would know or anything.
From there, just bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half.
TimesDaily Staff Writer Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com. His review column is published the fourth Friday of each month.