Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twelve – North Carolina – Atlantic Beach Pie

Welcome to week 12 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week, we add North Carolina to our fine United States, joining the union on November 21, 1789. Wow, that’s nearly 16 months after New York. Who knew it took them that long? Well, I guess this is my history lesson of the day.

North Carolina was the first state whose delegates voted for independence at the Continental Congress. It was a slave state, and in 1861 was part of the 11 southern states that seceded from the United States, starting the Civil War. And, North Carolina is famous for Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first powered airplane flight on December 17, 1903, covering only 120 feet and lasting only 12 seconds. And finally, North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the US.

Ok, so now we know a little bit about North Carolina. And onto food matters. I have to say, this regional area loves a few things; barbeque, shrimp and grits, and hush puppies. All done before, and I am not going to go down the road of testing the multitudes of bbq sauces, rubs, smokes and what not. So my hunt took my down another road, and that was the sweet path. And on that path I discovered a little treat called Atlantic Beach Pie.

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Atlantic Beach Pie, served with whipped cream

Legend has it that this pie was originally concocted because it was told that after eating seafood, dessert would make you terribly sick. I have a feeling this was from the same moms who said you had to wait an hour to go in the pool after dinner. But then came along a loophole. Someone said that if you could eat lemon with your fish, why couldn’t you eat it after? And so this pie was born.

Now this lemon pie has a filling that is very much like a key lime, so it is really the crust that makes it so incredibly unique. It is a simple mixture of saltine crackers, sugar and butter, pressed into a pie pan and baked for a few minutes. During the baking you mix the 3 ingredients for the filling; sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and lemon juice. You bake that for a few more minutes and you are done. Seriously, this is the easiest and fastest pie I have ever made.

And it’s really good.

It is believed that the really old original recipe had a meringue, but when a chef by the name of Bill Smith resurrected the recipe and started serving it at his restaurant ‘Crook’s Corner’ in Chapel Hill, he opted for whipped cream and it was an instant success. He continues to make it today and has kindly shared the recipe with the world so we can all enjoy it.

Yummy goodness, with a sweet/salty crust, tangy filling and a dollop of whipped cream. What is not to love about this? Thanks North Carolina. I thought you were going to be a tough one.

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Atlantic Beach Pie

Atlantic Beach Pie

Recipe from Bill Smith, Crook’s Corner Restaurant, Chapel Hill NC

For the crust:

  • 1 ½ sleeves of saltine crackers
  • ⅓ to ½ cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ cup lemon or lime juice, or a mix of the two
  • Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, and then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan.

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Press the crumb mixture into the pie plate

Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little. While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced.

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Atlantic Beach Pie

Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

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