One of the things my mother stressed when we were kids was that we should honor the culture and traditions of the Nation that had gifted us with Liberty and a wealth of opportunities we would not have had in our native land. Because of that, when it came time to celebrate American holidays, my mom went all out to bring to our family and friends those things that she thought were truly American.
Pecan pie was one of those things and my sister continues with this tradition every Thanksgiving. Sis is the one who does this fantastic American holiday while I do Christmas Eve with a meld of American, Cuban and Italian flavors.
So why is pecan pie so American? For starters, pecans come from a hickory tree that is native to South-Central North America. While that means there are some pecan trees in areas of Mexico, the pecan tree is really prevalent in most of the southern United States.
Did you know “pecan” was an Algonquian meaning that the nut required a stone to be cracked open?
As for the origins of the pie itself, there is some dispute about that. Some say it was first made in New Orleans when the French learned about the nut from the Native Americans. But recipes for the pie itself do not begin to appear in more well-known cookbooks until the 1940s. That could be because Karo Syrup made the dish popular in the 1930s.
My sister follows the Karo syrup recipe which you can find by clicking here. But the trick to make this really nutty and hearty is to at least double the number of pecans suggested in the recipe.
So instead of six ounces, use at least twelve or maybe even an entire pound bag of pecans. You will have to adjust the size of the pie plate to allow for the greater volume, but you will get a delicious, sweet, chewy, nutty pie with this variation.
You can also add some bourbon and/or chocolate to the recipe. Substitute 2 tablespoons of bourbon for the vanilla or add 3 ounces of semi-sweet chopped chocolate to the mix (or make it a combo of bourbon and chocolate!).
Pecan pie is wonderful served warm with a topping of either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!