Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bacon Bourbon Pecan Pie

When I was 11 years old, a friend and I got individual snack sized pecan pies. His looked exactly like a miniature pecan pie should. Mine looked like a fuzzy mix between a science experiment and a Chia Pet. Pete was a year older than I, and being older and wiser, it made perfect sense when he suggested I just scrape off the mold and eat it anyway.

It was 20 years before I could eat pecan pie again.

Fortunately, much like my aversion to whiskey which was achieved by somewhat similar methodology, I eventually overcame my repulsion to pecan pie. Pecan pie is an American tradition of southern cooking that is widely popular during the holiday season. Like many American traditions, its origins are somewhat murky and romanticized with advocates refusing to believe it could possibly be a recent innovation designed as a marketing scheme for product promotion. All evidence suggests Pecan Pie was a 20th century innovation designed to sell Karo corn syrup. Sorry. That doesn’t make it any less delicious though.

So if Pecan Pie is so delicious, why the need to constantly modify ingredients and ratios? Why are there so many different recipes? Two reasons. 1. Some people are just plain wrong. 2. Adding bacon and bourbon makes just about everything better.

1 1/4 cups of AP flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of cold solid fat (butter, bacon grease, lard, or {shudder} shortening)
3 tbsp of cold water

Start with the bacon. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and pre heat your oven to 400f. Lay in 6 slices of bacon. Cooking time will vary depending on how thick your bacon is, how streaky it is, and how big your baking tray is. A good rule of thumb is to flip the bacon in the tray and rotate it every 10 minutes. 20 minutes is usually enough. Don’t completely crisp the bacon up as you would for breakfast, otherwise your pie will get a slight burnt bacon flavor.

Lining the tray with foil makes for easy cleanup, and allows you to easily pour off the grease to save for later use. Cooking the bacon in the oven allows the bacon to cook evenly without curling up. If you really prefer to fry it, do so, I’m not your mother.

I use a scratch made pie crust because I think Pillsbury is part of an international conspiracy to make me fat and stupid, and because it tastes better. You can use a pre-made crust if you hate yourself, America, and good pie. Making your own crust will take about 30 extra minutes and allow you to tell everyone how you made the whole thing from scratch. Feel free to use a superior tone of voice, you’ve earned it.

In a big bowl whisk together the AP flour, salt and sugar. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut the fat into the flour until the mixture comes together in small nodules from the size of a pea to the size of meal.

A word on fat. Shortening sucks. It is scientifically proven to make you obese. Bacon fat, lard and butter, on the other hand, are pretty good for you as long as you don’t snack on them by the spoonful. Also, they are much more tasty than shortening. Each will yield slightly different textures. I like to use a half and half mixture of cold butter and cold bacon grease.

After the fat is cut in, sprinkle on the cold water in small amounts while tossing the dough with a spoon. How much water you’ll need depends entirely on the humidity where you are. Start with 3 tablespoons, add more as needed until the dough starts to form together and clumps easily when squeezed. This is something you’ll get better at the more you do, but is really hard to explain in text.

Dust your rolling surface with flour, and roll out your dough until it’s large enough to fit in your pie pan with about an inch of overhang. Pat the dough gently into the pan, and trim the edges. Pinch along the rim to make a decorative edge.

Cover with aluminum foil and lay in some pie weights. If you don’t have pie weights, you can use dried beans. Bake in your 400f oven for 20 minutes.

While the pie crust is baking, start on the filling.

2 cups pecan
1tbspn bacon grease
6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped.
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Maple syrup
1 cup corn syrup
5 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz bourbon

Roughly chop the pecans. Mix the pecans with a tablespoon of bacon grease in a large non stick skillet. Heat over medium heat, to toast the nuts. Keep an eye on them, they will go from toasted to burnt very quickly.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and sugar until well combined. Melt the butter and whisk it into the eggs. Chop up the bacon you cooked and mix it, along with the rest of the ingredients into the egg mixture. When the pecans are toasted, set them aside until the pie crust is baked.

If you’re a vegetarian, or for some other inexplicable reason don’t want bacon in your pie, feel free to omit it. The real secret to the flavor here is the bourbon and the maple syrup.

When the pie crust is done, pull out the pie weights, and reduce the heat to 375f. Mix the pecans with the rest of the filling, and then pour it into the crust. Bake until the center quivers but is set, about 35-45 minutes.

Merry Christmas, you’re now the most popular person you know.