Are you familiar with Chess Pie? I had only heard about it for the first time a few weeks ago, and was very curious.
It is a pie or tart with a filling made of eggs, butter, and sugar, according to Merriam-Webster. This one is technically a lemon chess pie because it includes lemon juice and zest. It tastes like a very sweet version of lemon squares– I recommend serving it with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
To say that this recipe is basic, made with simple everyday ingredients that most people have available in the pantry, is an understatement. Chess Pie also seems to be a Southern tradition, which goes along with chef John Besh’s explanation of the origin of its name– “it’s just pie” (say that with a slow, southern accent, it’ll make sense).
Chess pie comes in variations with white sugar or brown sugar, with cornmeal or flour, lemon or orange juice, it’s clearly a recipe that adjusts easily to whatever’s on-hand. This time I used a pre-made pie crust and John Besh’s recipe, next time I may be a bit more daring and try different flavors or Chess Pie’s northern cousin the New England Maple Sugar Pie.
Chess Pie from John Besh’s My Family Table
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk or whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 unbaked pie shell
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the eggs, sugar, milk, butter, cornmeal, and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Mix until the sugar is dissolved, but do not beat. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell.
2. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 300˚ and bake until the filling is set, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Serve at room temperature.