Making Lemon Chess Pie – a Southern traditional recipe

The finished lemon chess pie, waiting to be served with strawberries

Do people in other parts of the country make chess pie? Even though I’m not from the Deep South, I’ve eaten chess pie my whole life. It’s hard to imagine someone not knowing about it. Brought over from England, the chess pie has been around the South for at least 200 years. Chess pie is a simple egg custard pie, made with buttermilk, butter, sugar and, uniquely, corn meal.  Variations that I’ve seen include nutmeg, vanilla and lemon for the flavoring. In the springtime, before the summer fruits start coming in, I love to make a lemon chess pie to serve with the beautiful fresh strawberries that we start to see in the market. With some newly-made pie dough in my fridge last week, I decided it was time to make a pie.

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Making Pie Crust with Lard

Pie Crust with Lard Uncooked

Sometimes, when I talk about an ambitious food project that I’m working on at home, I get the sense that people think I’m crazy. Am I that much of a food freak? Maybe I just have too much time on my hands, but I sincerely love good food and I’ve realized over the years that the best food comes from a certain amount of effort done in my own kitchen. I know I’m not the only one who thinks this. Many of my friends are like-minded – spending a lot of time, energy and love on their food. I hope that you’re one of those people, too.

One thing I love to do is make pies, including my own pie crust. A homemade pie crust has a flavor and texture so superior to a store-bought crust and is so easy to make, that I never even think of buying one. If you have cold butter (and/or lard), flour, salt and sugar, you can have a pie crust dough ready to put in the refrigerator in 10 minutes.

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