This pie recipe comes to us from Lesley Bargar Suter, the Dine Editor for Los Angeles Magazine. You can check out LA Magazine’s Digest Blog and keep up on “L.A.’s tastiest restaurant gossip, culinary events, and food finds.”
Aside from licking the brownie batter off beaters and helping my mom roll lumpy matzo balls, my first real culinary endeavor was pie. I was probably 12 when I undertook a double crust all by myself. Why? Because I heard it was hard (Type A, much?) And no pie had ever made its way to our family table that didn’t arrive there in a Marie Callender’s box. So, I skipped right past boiling noodles and grilling chicken and instead attempted a classic Libby’s pumpkin pie. My family ooo’d and ahhh’d when I set the bubbly, unevenly burned, orange-colored masterpiece on the Thanksgiving buffet. That was the last time we ever saw poor Ms. Callender.
Later on in life, pie became a sort of therapy. Everyone tells me—and probably you—that with the right recipe and ice-cold ingredients, pie crust is a breeze. Well, it isn’t. Mine is always too crumbly or too wet or it tears when I try to transfer it to the pie tin. Something inevitably goes horribly wrong. And when it does, I get mad. And when I get mad, I tend to cry. And that is the kind of catharsis that a person just needs sometimes. To this day, whenever something tragic happens—something so upsetting that I just go numb—I make a pie. At the very least, it’s guaranteed to get the tears flowing.
So why pineapple meringue? Two years ago I interviewed butcher extraordinaire Harvey Guss, and I asked him to tell me his favorite beef recipe. I can’t remember the exact dish, but I know that it came from his number-one cookbook, “A Treasury of Great Recipes By Mary and Vincent Price.” Yes, that Vincent Price. The actor and his wife Mary spent their lives traveling the world and eating at some of the planet’s finest hotels and restaurants. They collected their favorite recipes in this gorgeous book, originally published in 1965. My husband located a first edition a few years back and gave it to me as a birthday present. (I’m so in love with this man.) Since then, we’ve spent many a night reading the recipe introductions aloud, doing our best Vincent Price impressions, and laughing hysterically. The photos are the pinnacle of bad ’60s and ’70s food photography—which also happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve always particularly loved the iridescent blue of the swimming pool and the neon yellow of the pineapple in the pictures from the Maui section, but had never whipped-up anything from it—until now. The pineapple meringue pie recipe comes from the Hotel Hana-Maui, and I’ll let Mr. Vincent Price himself explain why this tangy, light, tropical treat is so lovely—not to mention deliciously retro. (Don’t forget to do his voice in your head as you read.) Enjoy!
Picture from A Treasury of Great Recipes By Mary and Vincent Price
“They say you’ve never really tasted pineapple until you’ve eaten it in Hawaii. It has a fragrance, a sweetness, and a juiciness that the fruit shipped abroad never quite attains. This beautiful pie which we had at the Hana-Maui was made, naturally, from fresh pineapple, but we find we get better results at home using the canned crushed pineapple.”
Vincent Price’s Pineapple Meringue Pie
2 cups of crushed pineapple, drained of its juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon butter
1 9-inch pie shell, par-baked
1. Bake: a 9-inch pie shell [Note: I use the recipe from Joy of Cooking, but you could do any basic pie crust recipe, baked until just golden]
2. In a saucepan put: 2 cups canned crushed pineapple, drained of its juice, and 1 tablespoon butter. Cook stirring frequently, until thick.
3. Separate: 2 eggs. Beat yolks lightly. Pour a little of the pineapple mixture over the yolks, beat, and stir into the saucepan.
4. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until yolks have cooked a little and thickened.
5. Let this custard cook, then pour it into the baked pie shell.
6. Preheat oven to slow (325º F.)
1. Beat until frothy: 3 egg whites with 1/8 teaspoons salt.
2. Add: 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly.
Add: 1/2 teaspoonvanilla. Beat until stiff glossy.
Spread meringue over pineapple custard and bake in the slow oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until meringue is delicately browned. Let pie cool before serving.