There's nothing more exciting than discovering a new dessert.
So when I found myself leafing through the book Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible: The New Classic Guide to Delicious Dishes with More Than 300 Recipes, I was delighted to come across a recipe for a pie that I'd never seen before, and furthermore, it prominently featured an ingredient, that while very well-known, is not strongly associated with pie or dessert.
And as it turns out, I have a very special person in my life who is just crazy about this ingredient. He always orders it as a side, and his speeches about what makes the ideal version of this dish can get quite involved and somewhat dramatic.
So I told him to make the pie.
So he went to the grocery store, picked up some ingredients, and made the recipe that had so enchanted me...
Southern Grits Pie.
Basically a custard pie held together with grits, I personally was curious to hear what a grits lover would say about it. The final thoughts were:
"The finished product was very interesting. In the piece I had for breakfast, I could really see the texture working as a bar cookie, perhaps with a shortbread crust. The texture calls to mind a thick coconut pie, but the taste is different. Adding flavoring would be welcome--as it is with grits as a side. I am curious about how this pie might work with maple syrup added to the filling instead of sugar, or how it might taste with a sauce such as caramel or chocolate, or any fruit topping. But it was strong enough to stand alone--the first piece begged me to have another. A good dessert for someone who doesn't want way-out sweet."
A few more baking notes:
- I used Quaker Grits Quick 5 Minutes
- The idea of whisking for 20 minutes was daunting, but I decided I'd just do it til they were done--less than 10 minutes. But at that point, the mixture was fairly solid so I stopped it there. Once the butter was in, it was easier to work with. But the mixture definitely wasn't pretty. The flour clumped when mixed in; I tried to use a whisk, but it was too thick. I had to mix quite a bit. It might be a good idea to sift the flour before mixing it in.
- The baking was straightforward; I had to put foil around the edges to keep the crust for baking more rapidly than the filling. I baked mine for 38 minutes.
Southern Grits Pie (Printable recipe here)
Total time: 1 hour. Makes 8 servings.
- 1/4 cup quick-cook grits (not instant)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup butermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 unbaked pie crust
- whipped cream, fruit, or whatever topping you'd like.
Preheat the oven to 325.
In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil. Slowly, whisk in the grits and salt. Cook for 20 minutes (see note, above), whisking constangly. Add the butter and cook for an extra minute. Set aside to let cool slightly.
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir into the cooked grits. Pour the grits mixture into the unbaked pie crust and bake until set, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.