Monday, May 23, 2016

The Pies of Summer: North Carolina Beach Pie

There is an elaborate legend about this pie, recently featured on NPR. When I came across the story I knew I had to try it. The only thing is, I've been to the North Carolina shore and asked others who I know spend weeks there every summer, and nobody has ever seen this pie or heard this story. I'm tempted to call shenanigans.

Also, this pie was a bit cursed for me. The first time I separated the eggs and the added the egg whites to the mixture instead of the citrus juice. The next time I tried the crust was so loose I almost dumped the pie all over the floor and oven when I took it out, so that explains why this one looks so messy. In the end, this is rather like a key lime pie (made milder by mixing lemon and lime juice) with a saltine crust. The salty-tart-sweet is nice but it's not a pretty looking pie. The recipe below specifies not to turn the saltines into sand but the picture of the original recipe shows it that granulated. I'm not sure which I believe because crushing the crackers by hand makes the final result a bit messy.

Have you heard of Atlantic Beach Pie or North Carolina Beach Pie?

Recipe: Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie

Makes one pie

For the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8 inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn't need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

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