A chess pie is a single crust custard pie made with the addition of cornmeal. It is said to have originated in England and these pies were popular in New England as well as the South. Additions to the basic pie recipe included lemon juice, coconut, nutmeg, cocoa powder, or in this case, rhubarb. The tart rhubarb makes a marvelous contrast to the sweet filling – this pie is heavenly.
For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons shortening, chilled
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
- 2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add butter and shortening to the flour mixture, and cut until the mix resembles large peas. Add the ice water and mix with your hands until the dough comes together. Form into a ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 375º. Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness on a well floured surface. Ease dough into pie plate, crimp the edges, and chill for 15 minutes. This will help the dough from shrinking.
3. Line pastry with double thick foil, bake 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 8 minutes, remove from oven and set aside. On a parchment lined baking pan, bake rhubarb for 10 minutes, let cool. Toss with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Spoon into pre-baked pastry shell.
4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, 1 cup of granulated sugar, heavy cream, butter, lemon juice, cornstarch, cornmeal, vanilla, and salt – pour over rhubarb. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until center is set. Check pie after 30 minutes, if the crust is getting too brown, cover with foil. Let cool on a wire rack and store in the refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
(Adapted slightly from Better Homes and Gardens.)