Though the northeast will forever be considered my home, I spent my high school years in the south, basically learning how to adjust. A Jersey girl through and through, I just tried to blend anyway I could. I was too busy sneaking out to dance clubs in downtown Atlanta and cussing up a storm to care too much about food.
Sure, I got my fill of buttery grits and biscuits topped with white sausage gravy. I also ate enough fried chicken and pecan pies to make me an honorary southerner, I’m sure of that. For a teen who didn’t put any effort into it, I did pretty well sampling bits and pieces of the southern food spectrum. But I never had chess pie.
I don’t know if it was just too sweet or if the texture turned off my elementary tastes, but a new friend forced me to eat a slice at a lunch-only cafeteria (called, a meat-and-three) in Nashville a few months ago. When she heard I had never had the stuff, she didn’t even ask. She just slid a piece between us and, heh-heh-helloooo, I am now a chess pie convert.
My husband is in Nashville a lot. Life and Paris and gift boxes (all lovely diversions!) make it so I often miss out on repeat visits and repeat slices of this heavenly pie. Thanks to March’s Food and Wine, I now have an easy to whip up alternative. Sugarland’s lead singer Jennifer Nettles shared her great-grandmother’s riff on the traditional southern treat. I know it’s not true chess pie but it’s homemade and hits the spot. And like I always say, there’s no pie I like better than homemade pie.
There’s a good reason this recipe’s earned the name “Impossible Pie,” and you’ll discover it if you make it. I say it’s just impossibly good, and a totally worthy of… say… a Mother’s day brunch.
From Food and Wine, March 2011
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup self-rising flour
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 cups milk
While you’re down here, check out the Merry Gourmet’s real chess pie recipe here. I just heart her. And her chess pie.