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The Perfect Pecan Pie for the Holidays + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

When sisters Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau’s book Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking—150 Vegetarian Recipes popped up in my inbox, I knew it was one I wanted to read and share on this column. It’s not every day we get a book focused on Caribbean cuisine here! And as Michelle and Suzanne explained in their introduction, “The region’s culinary history and the life stories of Afro-Caribbean women are intrinsically intertwined.” They also share a brief history of the women in their family line, which they felt was (previously) inadequately covered compared to the men. The recipes that make up the book do not replicate generational or traditional West Indian recipes. Instead they use typical West Indian ingredients and sometimes techniques in inspired recipes like this week’s Pecan Pie infused with Rum. As a Southerner, this is one of the pies that says “Christmas” most to me, and I’m happy to be sharing this version with you for the upcoming holidays! —Kristina

About Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau: Sisters Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau have spent the last 20 years exploring the identity of Caribbean food from their unique vantage point as Jamaican writers, researchers, restaurateurs, and food entrepreneurs. They are co-principals of Summerhouse at the Liguanea Club, a Caribbean gastropub located in Kingston, Jamaica. Their first cookbook, Caribbean Potluck, received critical acclaim and was named among NPR’s Best Books of 2014. You can find them on instagram @summerhouseja and on twitter @2sistasandameal.

For a chance to win a copy of Provisions, respond in the comments section below by December 31, 5PM EST to the following question: What food item do you always bring back from your travels? I like to bring back local tea whenever possible. Let us know what you look for. We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!

Image above: Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking. Food photography by Ellen Silverman

Image above: Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau by William Richards

Image above: The Rousseau sisters’ paternal great grandmother Ma Briggs, creator of Briggs Patty, with daughter Enid (their grandmother).

Image above: The Rousseau sisters’ maternal grandmother Henrietta with son Hugh (their grandfather, far right) and siblings from Henrietta’s Cuban work permit, courtesy Rousseau family.

Image above: Pecan pie infused with rum.

Pecan Pie Infused with Rum

Pecan pie reminds us of the southern United States, but in particular of New Orleans. So much pecan candy and pecan pie abound in NOLA that we tend to overdo it a bit when we visit. This is our West Indian–inspired version of a pecan pie. Add some Jamaican rum, and oh boy is it good! Sometimes, for a country-style spin, we bake it in a skillet. This is our little homage to a beloved city…to NOLA with love.

Serves 6 to 8 (makes one 8-inch pie)

Ingredients

  • 1 Basic Pastry Crust, unbaked (recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup or Louisiana cane syrup
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • For the Pastry Crust (makes 12 tart shells or one 8-inch pie crust)
  • 1 pound (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound (1 cup) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preparation

1

To make the crust:

Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until it is incorporated into the dough and the mixture appears sandy in texture. Add 4 tablespoons ice-cold water, stirring it into the flour mixture until a dough forms; knead for a few turns to bring the dough together. Wrap well, and chill for three hours before using.

2

To make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the lower part of the oven. Roll out the pie crust and carefully lay it into an 8-inch pie plate or 8-inch skillet. Trim and flute the edges of the pastry. In a stainless steel bowl, mix the granulated and brown sugars together. Once combined, stir in the corn or cane syrup, eggs, salt, and flour. Continue stirring until everything is well combined (this should take about a minute). Stir in the rum, melted butter, and vanilla extract, and then fold in the pecans. Pour the pecan mixture into the pastry shell, and place the pie in the oven. Bake for at least 1 hour (up to 1 hour and 20 minutes), or until the pie is firm but soft in the center. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

Excerpted from Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking—150 Vegetarian Recipes by Michelle Rousseau and Suzanne Rousseau. Copyright ©2018. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

 

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Comments

  • I love to bring back spices! They’re obviously very light and pack well as long as they’re wrapped up tightly. Sometimes I’ll buy something not really knowing what I’ll cook with it, but they usually end up pleasantly surprising me. For savory spices, I like to try them first on some roasted chicken thighs. For sweeter spices, I’ll often whip them into a bread I’m making.

  • I always bring spices! Zaatar from Israel, saffron from Spain! They last forever and serve as the perfect reminder!

  • i bring back spices! last week i was in London and got 2… both not Britisch, though. Peri Peri and Jerk Seasoning.
    and chocolates.. in London they had air-bubble infused mint chocolate.

  • Usually we bring back something related to cooking like Vanilla or just chocolate that is to that region.

  • I love to bring back chocolates- always looking to try something new, or old favorites – from the outlawed kindereggs to Cailler (my husband’s favorite).

  • I bring back herbal tea blends as well! They are lightweight, often local to the place, and difficult to find at home. Additionally, they have medicinal benefits!

  • Honey! I once brought back raw, unprocessed honey from the remote Sundarbans of West Bengal India. It was in a recycled soda bottle, wrapped in multiple plastic bags, a towel and jeans. I was worried about it exploding and getting confiscated at customs but thankfully it made it home to NYC in one piece.

  • I seek out local olive oil if available. If not I bring back local spices that I’ve never cooked with or I’ve used and loved. I love going in and just browsing through grocery stores in the country I’m visiting and then finding bookstores with local storie, recipes or photographs.

  • It depends on the country – if it’s Mexico, it’s proper chocolate (for cooking and drinking), fresh vanilla and chiles… if it’s Italy, or France or pretty much most of Europe it’s dry sausage, cheeses and wine or beer. And in most places, as everyone else has said, unique herbs and spices for sure!

  • I like to bring back whatever the area I am visiting is the best known for. An example would be coffee or macadamia nuts from Hawaii!

  • Always tea! Anything herbal. I love to bring back tea because it also makes a great gift and it’s lightweight, plus no worries about liquid restrictions or anything spilling :)

  • I always bring back chocolate from a local maker wherever I go. I also like to bring back spices that I can’t get at home.

  • We don’t travel very much but were lucky to go to Costa Rica last winter. We brought back chocolate and coffee, so wonderful.

  • I bring back items that are indigenous to the area. I particularly like spices as they are relatively small and travel easily. Different chiles are also favorites. Chocolate of course is a must in most places. I was lucky to participate in harvesting olives, so HAD to bring back a gallon of olive oil… Using these items brings back so many memories of people and places, sights and smells, meals enjoyed, markets visited…. and I get to cook with these trasures and share some of these experiences with friends and family at home.

  • Condiments are the best to bring back from any trip. They nearly always travel well and always reflect specific flavors and history of the region of origin. Plus, condiments are so easy to mix and match with any food so it’s remarkably easy to create fusion recipes on the spot with other favorite staples.

  • If I were to travel, I would bring back something that wouldn’t take up much room in luggage!!!^_^ It would be unique to where I traveled and would not perish on getting it home!!!^_^ I love the idea of sweets, meats, cheeses, spices, teas, coffee, and dry ingredients!!!^_^

  • So excited to try this recipe out! The cookbook looks amazing, definitely going on my wishlist!

  • When I travel, my go-to’s are wine/spirits or soaps. I simply go to a local supermarket and look with items with festive labels. Recipients are always charmed and have no idea that they were every day goods.

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