Southern Style Bourbon Pecan Pie with Biscoff Crust

This Thanksgiving I figured I’d have a go at one of my brother’s favorites, pecan pie. After our Ireland trip we definitely ascribe to the “everything tastes better with a little whiskey” school of baked goods, so I opted for a bit of bourbon to go with the southern style of the pie. Bourbon tends to add a nice rich depth to the flavor of anything with brown sugar. Adding the bourbon is optional; when done properly you shouldn’t really taste it, just a fuller silkier overall flavor. I also have a slight addiction to Biscoff/Speculoos cookies so I wanted to try that as a crust, hoping it didn’t overpower the pie and it complimented it perfectly. And my brother, the pecan pie snob, said it was the best he’s ever had.

  • 1 package Biscoff Cookies
  • Half stick of butter (softened)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon(and then help  yourself to a nice two finger pour like a good southern girl)

Makes a 9 inch deep dish pie

Grease the pan with just a little bit of the butter. Crush the cookies in the food processor, adding in softened butter a spoonful at a time. When thoroughly blended, press into the pie dish and along the sides. Bake for 5-7 minutes to set, and then set aside.

Grind the pecans in the food processor till the texture of coarse salt. I found it helpful to add the brown sugar a bit at a time till it was about he same consistency. Mix in salt and vanilla. Set aside.

Beat the eggs till fluffy, add in corn syrup and pecan mixture till blended, and pour into the pie plate.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes, but check it at 30 minutes. If the crust seems too brown before the pie has risen evenly, turn down to 325 and cook for 15-20 till even. Let cool completely before cutting.

Top with whipped cream(I prefer to make mine with some heavy cream and Bailey’s) The pie should be soft and gooey but still be able to be cut in slices.

My best meal in Italy

I should say, I mean my best meal in Italy this trip. Each region of Italy has such a different food identity its like comparing apples to oranges if I were to compare my best meal in Emilia Romagna to my best meal in Tuscany to my best meal in the Amalfi Coast.

So first of all walking in the streets of Parma most every restaurant looks amazing. The menus posted by the doors boast famed local ingredients, and sophisticated preparations.  The one thing that I absolutely had to have was culatello while I was there. Culatello is the most prized salumi in Italy and of course unavailable in the U.S. The city of Zibello (In the provence of Parma) is the only place that produces it. It is said that climate of that tiny borghi is what gives the ham its innate sweetness and heady fragrance.

With only plans for one meal in Parma, the bar was set very high. I chose a small restaurant called La Greppia. It was warm and cozy inside with waiters with jackets and white table cloths although it didnt feel stuffy. Almost every table was occupied for lunch.

It took me a minute to realize what was missing, but the menus for ladies do not include prices.

The wine list at this place was incredible. The waiter said there was a very large Cantina( wine cellar) underneath the space. The prices of the wines were fantastic. The prices of Italian wines in italy is obviously a better deal than in the states but this cantina held tons of back vintages with seemingly very little markup from the original purchase price.

I love the rare occasions I can drink almost as old as I am

The first course was proscuitto wrapped Parmigiano Reggiano pan fried on top of a lentil puree. This is the most sophisticated delicious version of fried cheese I have ever heard of.

Culatello!!

So this is the aforementioned and rhapsodized about Culatello.  Even the consumption of culatello has its own guidelines for bringing out the most flavor and fragrance. Well-aged culatello, which is hard to the touch, should be cut free from any twine, rinsed in tepid running water and carefully brushed clean.

The meat should be softened in very dry white wine for a couple of days. Then the skin should be removed and any fat trimmed off. The culatello is then ready to be thinly sliced by hand. The direction of the cut and the slightly irregular width caused by the blade of the knife contribute to the experience and flavor of culatello. Otherwise, one would use a meatslicer and the resulting slices would be precise and even.

The best way to conserve culatello, once it has been sliced, is to spread a little olive oil or butter onto the exposed part.   The butter served with this dish is made from winter milk of Parma cows. The meat should then be wrapped in a towel, preferably made of linen, and moistened with dry white wine. The culatello should be kept in a fresh place, but definitely not the refrigerator, which would destroy the flavor. (This how to eat serve culatello info is from www.academiabarilla.com)

Pasta course was house made tagliatelle with rabbit ragu. Rabbit is a very common ingredient in traditional emilia rogmanga cooking. The pasta was delcious with the perfect amount of chew and the rabbit was very delicate. The fresh fava beans were wonderful.

This simple dish was amazing. Braised veal cheek with polenta. We all know that the cheeks of the animal are often the most tasty parts. The cheek was falling apart it was so tender and the platewas drizzled with what I assume was the braising liquid. By the time this dish made it in front of me I was so full with all the rich Parmesan food I didnt want to take another bite, but I couldnt resist this.

La Greppia was an incredible experience as was exploring Parma. You can tell that the people who live and work in the gastronomical mecca love what they do and have such pride in the local delicacies that are available.