"Please Pass the puh-Kahn Pie!"
Pecans are quintessentially Southern for perfectly natural reasons. The most popular varieties don’t grow very well in many areas outside of the South. Secondly, they don’t freeze very well for long, which limits their shelf life and their range.
Most Americans know them only in pies at Thanksgiving, but there are plenty of other satisfying ways to consume pecans as well, from candies, tassies and cookies to cooking oils.
One controversy about pecans is unlikely to die down soon: how to pronounce them. Some linguists say that “pee-KAHN” is dominant nationwide, but in much of the South “pick-AHN” or “puh-KAHN” holds sway. When I was growing up, one way to detect a Yankee was that many of them pronounced it “PEE-can,” a mild source of amusement to folks where the nut is actually grown.
Here is one of our favorite takes on pecan pie, featuring the addition of caramel to give it special distinction.
CARAMEL PECAN PIE
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 egg white
1/2 cup butter melted
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
6 whole pecans for topping
1 unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine sugars and flour, mixing well. Add butter, beaten eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir in the chopped nuts until evenly distributed. Brush pie shell with egg white to make the crust crispy. Pour mixture evenly into pie shell and embellish in a pattern on top with whole pecans. Bake for 50 minutes.
SouthernAirs developed some of these recipes, aiming as always for authenticity. Others are on loan from cited friends and relatives, or from authoritative sources with permission.