Marjorie Standish is, like, the Julia Child of Maine. In her two cookbooks, Cooking Down East and Keep Cooking the Maine Way, she collates every early-20th century Maine recipe you could imagine, many involving the fruits de mer, many utilizing everyday ingredients like crackers and mayo and cocktail sausages to create inexpensive yet festive fare. Sometimes she calls for an ingredient I’d have to do research to figure out, but overall she is confident, no-nonsense, and thorough. Which is why I was rather pleased to find that she had a lemon meringue pie recipe that didn’t sound too complicated…

Marjorie Standish’s Lemon Meringue Pie (and Never Fail Meringue)

For the pie:

1 1/2 c. sugar
6 Tbsp cornstarch or 3/4 c. flour*
3 egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue!)
grated rind of 1 lemon
6 Tbsp of lemon juice**
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. boiling water
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter

*Cornstarch, sayeth Ms Standish, “makes a clearer pie.”
**It occurs to me now that I didn’t measure out the lemon juice; after grating the rind off, I just juiced the lemon to within an inch of its life. I poured the juice through a sieve to get out the pulp and the seeds.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Mix, then add to slightly beaten egg yolks (in a larger bowl). Add to this the grated lemon rind and the juice, then add boiling water. Mix this well, then cook it on the stovetop in a saucepan, stirring constantly using low heat until it is thick and clear. I hope you have no where to be this afternoon. You’re going to be standing over this lemon curd for a long, long while. Once thickened, add the butter, then cool slightly, and turn in to a prepared, pre-baked pie shell. I cheated and used a store-bought frozen shell pre-baked per package directions for a meringue pie. Top this with Never Fail Meringue.

Never Fail Meringue
3 egg whites
3 Tbsp cold water
1 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp granulated sugar (separated)
pinch of salt

Put the egg whites, water, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl, beat until stiff, add sugar gradually. If you do this by hand, you will be beating for a long while. Rumor has it you can use an electric stand mixer if you have one to hand. Pile the stiff meringue on to the pie, and bake at 425 degrees for a few minutes. Watch carefully. In fact, watch it like a hawk. Do not walk away from the oven. The meringue will burn. You will be sad.

Now, Marjorie Standish doesn’t say to refrigerate this pie, or chill it, or even cool it. I left it on a cookie sheet on the counter to cool while we ran an errand, and when I returned home an hour or so later the lemon filling had — and there is no other way to describe it — begun to melt. Once we whisked the pie in to the refrigerator, however, this strange phenomenon stopped, and did not reoccur. So after letting the pie cool for a half hour or so, I recommend refrigeration.

Makes 1 heavenly homemade lemon meringue pie. Serves as many or as few as you feel like.

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