There’s no getting around the intense sweetness of pecan pie, as both its lovers and haters will attest. Here, however, the sugar is balanced by the tang of sour beer, which is reduced to one-third of its original volume and brightened with more lemon juice. A further recalculation: The filling-to-nut ratio here is evened out, making this version all about the pecans—with just enough filling to bind them together.
And while homemade pie crust is wonderful, it also adds 2 hours to making this recipe. If that’s a deterrent, there’s no shame in using a store-bought frozen pie crust; simply skip to Step 3 to make the filling.
Pay special attention to the frozen pie crust you buy, however, and make sure it’s a “deep dish” pie crust, which is 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep, as opposed to the standard pie pan, which is around 1 1/4 inches deep. If you can’t find frozen deep dish pie crusts, buy two standard pie crusts and split the filling between them for two thinner pies. Cook them at the same time and for just 10 minutes less than stated here for one pie.
For the pie crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1/3 cup ice-cold water
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour beer
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (8 ounces) whole pecans, roughly chopped
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and rub with the butter and flour together with your fingers until they form pea-size crumbles. Add the water and stir with a fork until the dough starts to come together. Scrape the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead briefly to combine. Form the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. On a lightly-floured work surface, flatten the dough disk with a rolling pin until 1/8-inch thick. Lay the dough round over a 9-inch “deep dish” pie pan, letting it fall into the bottom and up the side (do not press or stretch the dough). Trim the dough so the edge of the round hangs 1 inch over the rim of the pie pan, then fold the excess dough underneath itself to create a double-thick crust on the rim. Crimp with your fingers or a fork, then transfer the pie dough to the refrigerator to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
3. Make the filling: Pour the beer into a small saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat, and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour the beer into a medium bowl (reserve the saucepan) and whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, salt, vanilla, and eggs until smooth.
4. Add the butter to the reserved saucepan and melt over medium heat. Cook, whisking the bottom of the pot occasionally, until the butter solids start to turn amber brown and smell nutty, 3 to 4 minutes. While whisking the sugar mixture, slowly drizzle in the brown butter, and whisk until evenly combined.
5. Heat the oven to 375°F. Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and scatter the pecans over the bottom. Slowly pour the filling over the pecans in the crust, then place the pie in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F, and continue baking the pie until it’s golden brown on top and the center of the pie jiggles very slightly when you tap the pie pan from the side, about 35 to 40 minutes more.
6. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream on the side, if you like.
Makes one 9-inch deep dish pie
Photo by Liz Clayman