1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 deep-dish pie shell*
Preheat oven to 350 and cook the pie shell for 10 minutes or so. Melt butter and cool to room temperature. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, and vinegar with a stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, just whisk for a while, but it’s going to take a long time to get a light, fluffy batter. Slowly add melted butter and pour into the pie shell. Bake at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes, then bake for 45 minutes at 350** or until a crispy crust sets and turns almost the color of the pie shell. Allow to cool completely in the oven (or your pretty crust will crack, as mine has in the above photo) and refrigerate. Serve cold and with canned whipped cream, because we Southerners keep it classy.
*A regular-depth pie crust works as well. It looks prettier, too, but it can spill out if you’re not careful, so I go with deep-dish.
** If you cook it at 350 the whole way through, it rises quickly and forms a tall crust, then it sinks back down and you get this weird space between the crust and the custard-y part. Cooking it low at first means the crust will be more likely to stick to the custard, but it’s no guarantee. It’s hard to make this look super-pretty, but either way, it will be tasty.
A few words on this recipe: Chess pie is one of those stereotypical Southern things that no one outside the South seems to have any clue about. It’s very rich and sweet (like most Southern dessert items) and has a kind of custard-y texture. I got the recipe from my grandmother, who got it from Mrs. Storey, who once hosted dinner for my grandparents and father when they moved to a little town called Signal Mountain, TN. My father liked the chess pie she made for dessert so much that my grandmother asked for her recipe, and my family’s been making it ever since. Some traditional recipes add a little cornmeal, which is fine. Some other recipes will tell you to add flour or omit the vinegar for citrus fruit and zest, which is wrong. Don’t try to fancy this up, and you’ll have a very delicious Southern pie.
Really, I normally don’t have so much pride for my Southern roots. I left Georgia because it kind of sucked. However, when it comes to the food, don’t even play. It’s the best around, and you know it.