Lemon Pie with a Saltine Crust (AKA Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie)

Lemon Pie with a Saltine Crust (AKA Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie)

This might fall into the category of something everyone else knows about but me - crushed saltine crackers plus butter and sugar makes a slamming good pie crust! A personal information gap resulting from my limited exposure to both church basement and southern food, I guess.

This recipe is a bit of a sensation due to a piece NPR did on it a few months back. It's from a restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina called Crook's Corner. Here's link to a video of the chef/owner making it. He says that when he was growing up they ate a lot of local seafood and it was widely believed that if you ate dessert after you ate fish you would DIE (don't you love the south?), the exception being THIS pie. So, of course, every restaurant along the coast of North Carolina served it.

True or evil marketing campaign from the sweetened condensed milk company? No matter. This is a fantastic pie. Crispy, crumbly not-too-sweet cracker crust paired with a tart lemon filling, whipped cream and a sprinkle of salt. Served cold, it's one good dessert on a hot day.

The original recipe is for an 8 inch pie. I made individual pies in little spring form pans instead. You can spread whipped cream over the top like a frosting (as I did) or just a dollop on the top. The tartness of the filling is more pronounced the less whipped cream you use.

Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie

Makes one 8 inch or three 4 inch pies

1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
Flaky salt (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ

2. Break up crackers with your hands, a rolling pin or a food processor until crumbly with some bigger pieces. Add sugar and softened butter and combine with your hands or in food processor until combined.

3. Press firmly into the bottom and sides of an eight inch pie pan. The crust will be thick. Chill for 15 minutes then bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Take out of oven.

4. Make filling by whisking egg yolks, condensed milk and lemon juice together in a bowl. Pour into slightly cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes until filling is set. Make whipped cream by beating cream and sugar together until peaks form. Cool pie to room temperature, spread with whipped cream (if using as frosting) and refrigerate for a few hours until cold.  Sprinkle with salt, if using, and serve.


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