Chess Pie with Blackened Pineapple Salsa

Chess Pie with Blackened Pineapple Salsa

[Photograph: Grant Cornett]

As sweet as it is classic, "sugary as hell" Chess Pie from Smoke & Pickles gets amped up by blackened chunks of fried pineapple.

Reprinted with permission by Edward Lee. Copyright © 2013. Published by Artisan Books. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

  • Yield:makes 2 pies, each serving 6
  • Active time: 40 mins
  • Total time:1 day, including setting time


  • Pineapple Salsa
  • About 1/3 cup peanut oil
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Dough
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
  • Filling
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 tablespoons fine cornmeal
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg


  1. 1.

    To make the pineapple salsa: Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add 2 or 3 pineapple rings and fry until blackened on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then move to a cutting board. Repeat until all the pineapple rings are blackened, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

  2. 2.

    Chop the blackened pineapple rings into fine chunks. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the lime zest and juice, rum, and brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. 3.

    To make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix together. Add the butter and shortening and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the mixture is crumbly, with butter bits the size of small peas. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing until a rough dough is formed; stop as soon as the dough gathers into a ball.

  4. 4.

    Turn the dough out, divide it in half, and shape into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

  5. 5.

    Chill two 9-inch pie pans in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  6. 6.

    Transfer one disk of dough to a work surface dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle, occasionally lifting the dough and turning it a quarter-turn; dust with more flour underneath if needed. Lift the dough up and drape into one chilled pie pan, pressing it gently against the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim any excess overhang of dough with kitchen scissors or a knife. Roll out the other disk of dough; refrigerate both piecrusts for 30 minutes.

  7. 7.

    Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

  8. 8.

    To make the filling: Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Fill each piecrust about three-quarters full. Bake the pies for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean and a light crust has formed on top. Let cool on a rack. The pie can be served at room temperature or, better yet, slightly warm. Once cooled, the pies can be wrapped and left in a cool, dry place (like a chest or cupboard) for up to a day.

  9. 9.

    To serve, slice each pie into 6 slices, transfer to plates, and top with the pineapple salsa.