Pay de Nuez (Pecan Pie)
In my first book, El Norte the Cuisine of Northern Mexico, I included a confection called Dulce de Dátiles which was a delicious mixture of dates and pecans cooked with milk, sugar and honey and then cooled and sliced into individual portions. In the description I wrote: "Good by itself, it also makes a potentially award-winning filling for pecan pie." I decided to take my own advice and created the following recipe.
1 unbaked pie crust, home made or bought (thawed of previously frozen)
1 egg yolk beaten with a pinch of salt until it is thick and creamy
1 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated, white sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 cups chopped pecans
1 pound pitted dates, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
32 pecan halves
1. Bake the dough. Line a pie pan with the crust and press a piece of aluminium foil on top of it to conform to its shape and covering the edges of the dough. Pour 1 pound rice or an appropriate amount of pie weights into the foil and mound along the edges to keep the sides of the crust from losing their shape. Place the dough in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take the dough out of the oven and remove the foil and its contents. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, brush the top and half way down the sides with the beaten egg yolk and replace the pan in the oven until it is a golden brown all over, about 5 - 7 minutes longer.
2. Make the filling and finish the pie. Place the milk and sugars in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture thickens and produces large bubbles, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chopped pecans, dates, salt and honey and cook until the mixture is thick, just a few minutes more. Stir in the butter and when it has melted add the vanilla. Spoon the mixture into the pie crust and place the pecan halves in eight lines going from just off the center to the side of the pie, like the spokes of a wheel, so that each piece, when cut, will have a line of nuts down the center. Allow the pie to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Before serving bring the pie to room temperature.