The south is known for delicious pecans and everything that one can think of making with them: pies, pralines, caramel and pecan topping, ice cream, or simply as a snack all by themselves.
The pecan tree is a species of hickory and the word is from the Algonquian Indians, meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack. While pecan trees have been around for a long time, and were prized in Colonial America as delicacies, commercial growing of pecan trees in America did not begin until the 1880’s. Today, more than 10 million trees produce 150,000-200,000 tons of pecans annually.
I’d say Americans like their pecans. Which, by the way, may be pronounced pecan to rhyme with ran or as pecan to rhyme with on. Your pronunciation of choice usually depends on where you were raised.
There are so many creative ways to use pecans in recipes. How about with grilled plums or peaches and cheese? Or, as a pesto of ground pecans and cilantro coating for salmon? The classic Southern dessert, Hummingbird Cake, includes pecans and, after first appearing on the pages of Southern Living Magazine in 1978, has become the magazine’s most requested recipe.
Here’s a recipe that I plan on trying because it includes a step on the grill.
Take one of the South’s richest culinary traditions from the oven to the grill for more flavor. Pecans, caramel and filling are nestled in a half-moon pouch of dough and grilled directly over hot coals to form a crisp shell with a rich gooey center.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Yield: Makes 8 Pies
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup flour for rolling out dough
- 8 store bought caramels cut in half
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces
- 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate.
- Measure the water and refrigerate.
- In a small mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix well.
- Add in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
- Slowly add water, mixing continuously, until a dough ball is formed.
- Seal the dough ball in GLAD® ClingWrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Sprinkle countertop or cutting board generously with flour.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and place onto the floured prep area, roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch.
- Cut the dough into 5- to 6-inch diameter circles removing extra dough from the prep area to reroll and make more pie shells.
- Immediately peal, lift and flip the dough circles making sure they don’t stick. Yield should be 8 pie shells.
- Preheat the grill using Kingsford® charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place 2 caramel halves and 1 tablespoon of pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
- Combine corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix until the ingredients are combined.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the egg once the mixture has cooled.
- Chill the filling for 15 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.
- Add 4 teaspoons of the cold filling mixture over the caramels and pecans onto the center of each dough circle.
- Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough in half creating a half moon with peach filling.
- Gently press the pie edges together and crimp them with a fork.
- Prep the charcoal grill grate by using a grill brush and to brush on a light coat of oil.
- Transfer the pies to the grill and cook over direct heat, uncovered, for 3 minutes on each side or until the dough turns a crispy golden brown.
- Remove from the grill and serve.