A true Southern and Colonial staple pie, chess pie is traditionally a somewhat gelatinous filling made unique by the addition of cornmeal. This lemony version is nice and tart and decidedly refreshing. Serve at room temperature with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk. My friend Rodney Henry from Dangerously Delicious Pies introduced me to chess pie. That man is the pie master. —Duff

Makes one 9-inch pie

  • ½ recipe Pie Dough (see below)
  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter
  • 2 extra-large eggs plus 6 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  2. Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface into a 14-inch round that’s ¼ inch thick. Carefully drape the dough over the rolling pin and lay it gently into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure that the pan is completely lined with the dough. Trim and crimp the edge.
  3. Lay a circle of parchment paper and some pie weights or dry beans on the bottom of the crust. Blind bake the crust for 5 minutes, remove the weights, and bake for 4 more minutes, until the crust is a matte blond color. Set aside.
  4. To brown the butter, slowly simmer it in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the solids have separated and lightly browned, taking care not to burn it. Remove it from the heat but make sure it stays melted.
  5. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and salt, then whisk in (one at a time) the sugars, vanilla, cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, browned butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  6. Pour the mixture into the crust and cover the edges of the crust with foil.
  7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the pie looks mostly set, just slightly jiggly in the very center.
  8. Let it cool completely, then chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Let the pie return to room temperature before slicing and serving.

This here is my pie dough recipe that I’ve been using for almost twenty years. It’s super-basic, super-adaptable, and helps me make awesome pie! You can goof around with it and add flavor and spice and stuff, but the ratios are good, I promise. Also, there’s vinegar in this dough, which keeps the gluten from forming and helps make your dough flaky and tender. If you don’t have vinegar, just squeeze a lemon into the water. If the pie calls for a top and bottom crust, double this recipe. —Duff

Makes enough for one 9-inch single pie crust

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Big pinch of sugar
  • 1 to 1½ sticks (½ to ¾ cup) cold butter, cubed (1 stick will make prettier pie crust, 1½ will make butterier, more delicious pies)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (nothing distinct like balsamic, but rice wine or distilled white are totally cool) or lemon juice
  1. In a big bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar and make a claw with your hand to mix it up real good. Toss in the cold butter cubes and massage them into the flour mixture so you get nice big chunks.
  2. Combine the vinegar with ½ cup cold water (this is called acidulating, which just means adding acid to something . . . usually water). Stir the acidulated water into the flour mixture and gently work the dough until a ball is formed.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic, squeeze out the air, and chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This also freezes awesome for up to a year.