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Celebrate Leah Chase's James Beard award with her sweet potato pie

In honor of Chef Leah Chase's receiving the James Beard Foundation’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Monday night in Chicago, here is one of her favorite recipes. It comes courtesy Kit Wohl's Cookbook Studio and her book New Orleans Classic Desserts (Pelican Publishing). Kit appears regularly in the kitchen on the Sunday edition of Eyewitness Morning News, Sundays at 6 a.m.
Leah Chase's Sweet Potato Pie

In honor of Chef Leah Chase's receiving the James Beard Foundation’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Monday night in Chicago, here is one of her favorite recipes.

It comes courtesy Kit Wohl's Cookbook Studio and her book New Orleans Classic Desserts (Pelican Publishing). Kit appears regularly in the kitchen on the Sunday edition of Eyewitness Morning News, Sundays at 6 a.m.

The James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement award is bestowed upon a person in the industry whose lifetime body of work has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and think about food in America. Congratulations, Mrs. Chase!

Leah’s Sweet Potato Pie

There’s something about a sweet potato pie that feels like home, especially at Dooky Chase’s. Not only is Leah’s sweet potato filling as succulent as it promises, but her pecan crust is unique.

YIELD: 8-INCH PIE, SERVES 6

PIE FILLING:

2 to 3 large sweet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds) peeled and cut into 2” cubes

½ to 1 cup granulated sugar to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 large eggs, beaten

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cooled, prebaked pie crust (Leah’s recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll the chilled pie dough into a 12-inch round and press into a 9-inch pie pan. Flute the edges. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is set and beginning to brown slightly. Remove the pie pan from the oven and let it cool.

Put the sweet potatoes into a medium pot and cover them with water by an inch. Bring to a boil. Boil slowly until the potatoes are tender with no absolutely no resistance at the center when pieced with a fork. Or, pierce the potatoes and place them on a baking sheet and roast in a 375 degree F oven until tender.

Drain off the water or peel and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Do not use a potato ricer or food processor.

As you mash the potatoes, add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; then whisk in the eggs, milk, and vanilla. The butter goes in last.

Once the filling is well-mixed, pour it into the baked pie crust. Sprinkle the top of the pie with more ground cinnamon. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and the edges of the crust have browned.

Cool the pie to room temperature and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Leah’s Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely-chopped pecans

1/2 cup cold butter (the original recipe calls for vegetable shortening)

1/4 cups ice-cold water, or as needed

In a food processor, pulse together all the dry ingredients and the butter into short bursts until the mixture forms pea-sized lumps. Add the water through the feed chute as you pulse until the mixture forms a stiff dough and pulls away from the sides of the food processor bowl. Or, Simply use a pastry hand blender to blend the dry ingredients until they resemble small peas in size, add the chopped pecans, then using a rubber spatula, gently form the mixture into a 6-inch disc while slowly adding the liquid. Wrap the dough in plastic; chill for one hour. The dough can be made in advance. It can be kept refrigerated for several days and even frozen.

(Recipe from Kit Wohl's New Orleans Classic Desserts, Pelican Publishing)

Credit: WWL-TV
Leah Chase prepares her Gumbo Z'herbes on Holy Thursday.