My Grandma Sally was a great cook. She would have us over for Sunday dinners and she would always make something satisfying. I remember her meatloaf and spaghetti and her macaroni salad. And of course, I remember this pie. My grandmother never shared this recipe with anyone, but after she died, my mom found it scribbled on a card. Maybe she will haunt me for sharing her recipe. But good recipes that go unshared are usually a good sign. Hopefully she doesn't haunt me. She was a feisty Irish woman with a temper. And imagine a ghost haunting you that has an Irish accent. Scary.
When I made this, I called my sister Haley to come over. In preparations for becoming a new mother and homemaker, she has recently quit her job. I knew she wouldn't be doing anything besides sleeping, so I convinced her to come over and we were going to make some pies. We doubled the recipe and it turned out great. So if you want to make two, do it. The recipe can handle some bulk.
This pie can be described as delicate. The crust is light and flaky. The lemon custard is tart and sweet. The meringue is airy and melts in your mouth. As fancy as this pie sounds, the preparation isn't. I think the hardest part is getting a piece out of the pie plate without totally ruining it. The pie crust recipe is the same one I used for my apple pie. That recipes is for a crust and a top, but in this recipe, I have pared it down so you only make a bottom crust. Good luck!
For the crust:
6 Tbsp cold butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3-5 Tbsp ice water
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
Begin by cutting the butter and shortening into small cubes. Put on a plate and put it in the freezer. Fill a cup with ice water and put that in the freezer along with the butter and shortening.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse 8-12 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. Run the machine and add the water. Once all the water is added, turn the machine off and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball.
Take the ball out and form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, set the oven to 400 degrees and spray your pie pan with non-stick spray. Roll out the crust on a lightly floured surface. When rolling, be sure to flour the rolling pin as well. Once the crust is big enough to fit in the pan, fold it in half and gently set it over half of the pan and unfold. Trim edges to right up to the edge of the pan. Crimp the edges of the pan with your fingers and then poke the bottom of the crust with a fork a few times. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned on the edges. Remove crust from the oven and set aside to cool.
For the filling:
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
3 Tbsp butter
Add the eggs to a large bowl and set aside. In a large sauce pan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Boil for 1 minute. Pour half of the sugar mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk and boil for 1 more minute. Stir in the lemon juice, zest and butter. Once the butter has melted, pour the lemon custard into the pie shell. (The pie crust does not have to be completely cooled.) Set aside.
For the meringue:
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
Set oven to 450 degrees. In a large metal bowl, add the egg whites. With a hand mixer on high, whip the egg whites. Once the egg whites are foamy, add the cream of tartar. When the egg whites are beginning to form soft peaks, gradually add the sugar. Mix until the egg whites form stiff peaks. With a spatula, gently spread the meringue onto the lemon custard. (The custard does not have to be completely cooled). Bake for 5-7 minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned. Remove pie from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool. Once the pie is cooled enough to handle with bare hands, put the pie into the oven. Chill until the bottom is cold and the lemon custard is set.
Rookie's Notes: A word on egg whites. Separate the eggs before you do anything else. Let the eggs sit on the counter while you make the crust etc. It isn't vital for the egg yolks to be at room temperate, but it is for the egg whites. They will whip up MUCH faster if they are at room temperature.