by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
Hey Grandpa, What's for Supper? Here's what's on the menu tonight: Steak and kidney, baked in a pie, and flapjacks on a plate, piled high, with sorghum lasses, larrupin' sweet, and maw's chess pie that can't be beat.
— Hee Haw, Season 1 Episode 26
Cornmeal pie, also called Chess pie, is one of those authentic southern classics that, like folklore, changes each time with the telling. It seems to have descended from a tart originally from England and brought to New England and Virginia where it was served more as a tea accompaniment than a dessert pie. It was a lemon curd pie, most likely called Cheese Pie because it set up like cheese curds.
Over the years, it has evolved into something quite different, and while it can still include lemon, it has also been made with cornmeal, vinegar, buttermilk, vanilla, and even chocolate. The name, many believe, is an Americanization of the English “cheese pie,” while others say the common ingredients of butter, eggs, sugar and flour make it “jus” pie. Basically the Chess Pie is a now a cheese-less custard. In central Mississippi, cornmeal replaces the flour ingredient and when baked in a pan and cut into squares is called Chess Squares.
1 stick melted butter (8 tbsp)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornmeal
1 tsp vanilla flavor
1 tsp vinegar
Mix all ingredients together and cook on low-medium heat. Pour into pie shell and bake on 350° for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown.
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