Hickory Nut Pie - A Kentucky Wonder

Cracked Hickory Nut, Vintage 2008

Cracked Hickory Nut, Vintage 2008

I grew up surrounded by woods full of hickory nut trees, but was not smart enough to eat the tasty nutmeats each fall. I have now tasted Hickory Nut Pie two memorable times, once in 2001 and again this year, the day after Thanksgiving. Both tastes happened in beautiful Wayne County. The pie-makers are sisters, part of a clan of stunning women near to my heart and almost kin. The 2008 pie made a miraculous appearance at the Friday Long Walk and Light Meal that may be turning into a Thanksgiving family tradition. Sixteen adults divided the pie into 16 meticulously fair slivers. We tried not to sound too happy as we ate these amazing bites, because then we might have been shamed into sharing with the 17th person present - a precious child too small to know what she was missing.

I hereby nominate Hickory Nut Pie as the dessert Most Likely To Succeed at any holiday feast this year.

I asked the pie maker if she would share the recipe, and she generously agreed. Here is part of her note to me, with the recipe following:

I am so happy everyone enjoyed the hickory nut pie. As I make labor intensive dishes, I remember Rolling Thunder talking about the energy we put into the food we prepare having a powerful impact on those that eat the food....positive or negative.  I LOVE gathering hickory nuts in the brisk fall air. I LOVE cracking and picking the nuts out while sitting in front of my fireplace. Friends and family typically stop by to help crack the nuts, creating a social event. I LOVE making the pies-anticipating how much they will be enjoyed. I embrace Rolling Thunder's idea. Given the good energy that goes into hickory nut pies they surely nourish the heart and soul of those that eat them.

I will be happy to share my recipe for hickory nut pie. The original Southern Pecan Pie recipe is from the 1965 edition of "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book." I adapted the recipe to suit my taste, replacing the pecans with hickory nuts.

Hickory Nut Pie

3 eggs (Elmwood of course) 2/3 cup brown sugar 1 cup syrup (I typically use about 3/4 of real maple syrup and the rest Golden Bob White...as a kid we used  all Bob White) 1/3 cup homemade butter 1 cup hickory nuts...if the hickory nuts are plentiful I add a bit more 1 9-inch unbaked pie pastry shell

Beat eggs thoroughly with sugar, dash salt, syrup, and melted butter. Add pecans. Pour into unbaked pastry shell.

Bake in moderate oven (350) 50 minutes or till knife inserted halfway between outside and center of filing comes out clean.

I typically place aluminum foil over the pie (without foil touching the nuts) for the last 20 minutes or so to keep nuts from getting too brown and losing quality of taste. The flavor of this pie is even more wonderful the second day.