Kentucky Transparent Pie

kentucky pie
Photo Credit: Spruce Eats, 2017.

I am a Southerner with a sweet tooth and Kentucky Transparent Pie fits the bill as a custard pie that is a sweet as it can get as a dessert. Similar to a chess pie, buttermilk pie, vinegar pie or sugar pie, this version of the pie is made with half brown sugar and half granulated sugar. Many of Kentucky’s pies feature bourbon, one of their most famous exports and I am sure that you could slip a dram or two into your pie if you desire. Basically, the simple combination of ingredients makes a filling to die for!

The most well known Kentucky Transparent Pie can be found at Magee’s Bakery in Lexington, Kentucky. Usually around Thanksgiving, there is a rush for the pie found on the bakery shelves. Maysville, Kentucky is about 70 miles northeast of Lexington, and is the home of the original Magee’s Bakery, which opened in the 1930s. Magee’s is known for popularizing the Transparent Pie.

Although the pie is not “transparent” the pie filling is really just a pale shade of yellow.

In terms of culinary history, Transparent Pie goes way back to the frontier days, where families made pies using whatever pantry goods they had on hand. They had no refrigeration in those days, and these pies did not have to be refrigerated. It was determined many years ago, that Transparent Pie originated in Kentucky, and not just anywhere in Kentucky, but in the Maysville Kentucky area. Transparent Pie is a very well-known pie in Maysville area, although it is not well-known to many people, even in the most populous parts of Kentucky.

While the attention-grabbing name is unique — and first started appearing in Kentucky newspaper advertisements and articles in the 1890s — food historian Sarah Baird says the dessert actually closely resembles pies from other regions of the United States. While a pie crust is the ideal vessel for just about anything edible, in Kentucky, nuts and chocolate reign king among pie fillings. Sugary custard pies also have their own special place in Kentucky culinary history. Transparent pie, buttermilk pie, vinegar pie, sugar pie and Jefferson Davis Pie, all made with the basic ingredients, these pies are all comparable in recipe and method, but have a distinctness and regional popularity that is all their own.

Throughout much of the Appalachian Mountains and certainly into the eastern parts of Kentucky, chess pie is a potluck essential. Most food historians believe that the word chess is simply slang for English cheese pie filling. Others say that the word is “chest,” spoken with a Southern drawl, because these sugary pies could be stored in a pie chest rather than being refrigerated. And yet others believe it to be a run-on version of the words “just pie.” Because of its simple ingredients (eggs, sugar and butter) with no added nuts, fruits or candies, it is “jes’ pie” or chess pie.

Jefferson Davis Pie is also popular throughout the South but had a historical presence at Berea College’s well-known Southern inn, the Boone Tavern, throughout the mid-1900s. Richard T. Hougen, manager of the inn, was said to have taught all Boone Tavern pastry chefs how to make Jefferson Davis Pie for hotel guests and visiting dignitaries to enjoy. Wherein chess pie and Jefferson Davis Pie can be found throughout the Deep South, Kentucky claims the transparent pie as their very own.

“When you go into Indiana you have sugar pies,” Baird says. “It’s kind of a kissing-cousin of shoofly pie, which is in Pennsylvania.”

Baird also mentions chess pies, originally found in New England, and Southern buttermilk pies. All of these have the same simple sugary liquid filling that is baked down in a shell.

Baird did some in-depth research on the origin of the transparent pie for her book Kentucky Sweets. She thinks part of its original popularity — and the popularity of similar variations — was due to its accessibility to rural families.

“What everyone in my research kept coming back to over and over is that it’s a pie that doesn’t require something expensive like pecans,” Baird says. “They are kind of farm ingredients, right? You are going to have all those ingredients in the pantry or on the farm. You can go get the eggs, you will have the cream.”

She says the actual origin of the transparent name is still kind of a mystery — but it’s something that is definitely unique to the Maysville area.

McGeesTransparentPie-13_FotorMagee’s Bakery concocted the recipe for this silky, custard pie. The bakery, located on Market Street, has been making these pies for over 60 years. They make regular size pie and portable small tarts. And according to social media, these little transparent tarts are the favorite pie of actor George Clooney, who grew up in Augusta, Kentucky, who always sings the praises of Transparent Pie. Clooney, not only travels to Maysville to purchase Transparent tarts and pies, but has bought them to share at movie sets and television studios with his crew and colleagues ……but then again, they are probably the favorite pie of anyone who grew up in the Maysville area!

Makes 1 Pie, Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Pastry:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (granulated)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (chilled or frozen, cut into small pieces)
3 to 4 tablespoons of ice water

For the Filling:
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped Cream, for serving

Directions:
In a food processor pulse the flour, salt, and sugar until well blended. Add half of the butter and pulse about 6 times. Add the remaining butter and pulse 5 or 6 times. The mixture should look crumbly with pea-sized pieces here and there. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ice water over the flour mixture and pulse a few times. Add more ice water, a teaspoon at a time, until the mixture begins to form small clumps.

Toss the mixture out onto a floured surface and press and shape with your hands until the dough holds together. Don’t overwork the dough. Shape it into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 450° F (230° C/Gas 8).

Roll the chilled dough out about 2 inches bigger than the pie plate (upside-down). Fit it into the pie plate and crimp the edge as desired. Line the pie shell (do not prick the dough) with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake the pie shell for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights, return it to the oven, and bake for another 3 minutes. Remove the crust to a baking sheet and reduce the oven temperature to 350 °F (180° C/Gas 4).

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar, flour, melted butter, cream, salt, and vanilla. Blend well. Pour the filling mixture into the crust. Place a pie shield over the crust edge to prevent excessive browning. Transfer the pie to the 350 F oven (baking sheet and all) and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the pie shield and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until set.

Cool on a rack and then chill thoroughly in a refrigerator before serving.

Slice the chilled pie and serve it, topped with freshly whipped cream.

Cook’s Note:
If you choose to use a pre-made frozen crust or refrigerated pastry, follow the instructions for partially baking the pie shell. Even though you can bake the pie with an unbaked crust, a par-baked crust is recommended to avoid a soggy bottom.

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Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy

po bpi

In the late 1800s fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in New Orleans as “oyster loaves”, a term still in use in the 21st century. A sandwich containing both fried shrimp and fried oysters is often called a “peacemaker” or La Médiatrice. Most likely the earliest known version of a po’ boy

A staple of New Orleans cuisine, the po’ boy sandwich harkens back to 1920s. The origin of the name is unknown. A popular local theory claims that “po’ boy”, as specifically referring to a type of sandwich, was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin (originally from Raceland, Louisiana), former streetcar conductors. In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleagues free sandwiches. The Martins’ restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys”, and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name. In Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to “po’ boy.”

Po’ boys usually features some sort of meat, though the type ranges from roast beef to fried seafood most often shrimp, crawfish, fish, oysters or crab to sausage, that’s served on baguette-like New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy center. In New Orleans, the two primary sources of po’boy bread are the Leidenheimer Baking Company and Alois J. Binder.

New Orleans is known for its grand restaurants, but more humble fare like the po’ boy is very popular. Po’ boys may be made at home, sold pre-packaged in convenience stores, available at deli counters and most neighborhood restaurants. One of the most basic New Orleans restaurants is the po’ boy shop, and these shops often offer seafood platters, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and other basic Creole dishes.

It’s safe to say that I have a love affair with the cuisine of New Orleans. It is a magical place where the local residents like to say there are four seasons: Mardi Gras, crawfish, snowball and football — and they all revolve around food. Just give me a po’boy dressed and beignets with a steaming cafe au lait, and I am good…..

 

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 small loaves of French bread (or 2 larger loaves, halved)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large tomato, sliced
2 cups lettuce, shredded
Dill pickle spears, for serving

Directions:
Peel the shrimp, but leave the tails on, if desired.

With a sharp knife, make a shallow cut along the length of the back of a shrimp. Pull the dark vein out or scrape it out with the knife. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.

Rinse the shrimp under cold running water; pat dry and set aside.

Heat the oil to 375 ° F in a deep, heavy saucepan or deep fryer. Line a baking sheet or pan with a double layer of paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, hot sauce, and egg and whisk to blend.

Add the shrimp to the mixture and allow to stand for 3 to 4 minutes.

In another bowl, combine the flour and cornmeal with the baking powder, Creole seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Take the shrimp out of the milk and egg mixture and dredge in the flour and cornmeal mixture. Coat the shrimp thoroughly.

Drop several coated shrimp in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcrowd the shrimp or the oil will take longer to return to temperature and the coating will absorb more oil.

With a slotted metal spoon, transfer the cooked shrimp to the paper towel-lined pan and repeat with the remaining shrimp.

Slice the baguettes into serving lengths and split.

Spread with mayonnaise and arrange 6-10 fried shrimp on the bread and top with tomato slices and shredded lettuce.

Serve with a side of the dill pickle spears and enjoy!

 

 

Cook’s Notes:
To “Dress” your po’ boy with the traditional lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. Hot sauce is optional.

Instead of dressing the po’ boy with regular mayonnaise, you can substitute with a traditional remoulade. To make the remoulade, combine 2/3 cups mayonnaise, 1/3 cup parsley, 2 tablespoons mustard, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, the juice of one lemon, and two chopped green onions in a blender. Process until a smooth consistency is reached, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Store the remoulade in a glass container covered, refrigerated.
season to taste with salt and pepper.


Turkey and the Wolf’s Deviled Eggs

Hero0414TurkeyANDwolf_eggs0001Photo by Denny Culbert, 2018.

The Chicken or the Egg?

Open for less than a year, New Orleans’ Turkey and the Wolf in the Lower Garden District has become a big hit for its imaginative menu that pairs local bounty with throwback pantry staples like club crackers and Doritos. Here, chef-owner Mason Hereford shares one of the restaurant’s standards. “I love to eat fried chicken and deviled eggs together, so I thought ‘why don’t I make a dish that has the best of both?’”

Don’t skimp on the hot sauce, Hereford says. “We make our own, but Crystal is what’s up.”

Deviled Eggs with Fried Chicken Skins

Makes 8 to 12 Deviled eggs

For Fried Chicken Skins:
½ pound chicken skin, or skin from 1 whole fryer chicken
1 onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1¼ cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup finely-ground panko bread crumbs
1½ tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon celery salt
Oil for frying
Kosher salt, to taste

For Deviled Eggs:
6 hardboiled eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Louisiana-style hot sauce (Crystal), plus more for  garnish
Juice of ½ lemon
Kosher salt to taste
Fried chicken skins (recipe follows)
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Fresh dill sprigs, for  garnish

Directions:
Make fried chicken skins: On a cutting board, lay out chicken skin, fat side up (the side that doesn’t have the bumpy texture from where the feathers were plucked). Using a spoon, scrape off all the fat. Removing the fat is key to a crispy end product. Next, place skins in a medium pot and add onion, garlic, and bay leaves. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn off heat and the let the skins sit for 15 minutes. Next, drain skins and allow them to cool by spreading them flat on a resting rack or a piece of parchment paper. Once skins are cool, they are ready to be fried.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, panko, and seasonings. Dredge cooked chicken skins until fully coated. In a deep skillet, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry skins, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick together, until they reach a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Keep your distance when frying as the skins have a tendency to pop and crackle when they enter hot oil. Remove skins from oil and drain on a paper towel. Season immediately with salt, and reserve until ready to assemble eggs. They last a few hours before losing crispiness.

Make deviled eggs: Peel hardboiled eggs and cut each in half lengthwise. Remove yolks from whites, and rinse whites in cold water to remove any excess yolk left behind. Press yolks through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl. Next add mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, lemon juice, and salt, trying not to overwork egg yolk mixture. The filling should be slightly fluffy and not loose.

To serve, arrange eggs on a platter, and using a piping bag or zip-top plastic bag with a snipped corner, fill whites with egg yolk mixture. Garnish with fried chicken skins, a drizzle of hot sauce, freshly cracked pepper, and some torn sprigs of fresh dill.

Cook’s Note:
You can find chicken skin at your local butcher shop (ask for a half-pound). Otherwise, you can buy a whole fryer chicken from the supermarket and remove the skin with a chef’s knife or scissors. Ignore those areas that are especially difficult to remove the skin, as you’ll get plenty for this recipe from the breast, back, and thighs.

If you are ever in New Orleans, make sure to put this great place on your list of places to eat. It will be worth trip!

Turkey and the Wolf
739 Jackson Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 218-7428
turkeyandthewolf@gmail.com

Hours
Wednesday – Saturday, and Monday: 11am – 5pm or until we sell out
Sunday:  11am – 3pm
CLOSED TUESDAYS