While this pie may sound like something that you could have found in a diner 50 years ago (and maybe you could have), it turned out not only to be much better than I ever anticipated, but to be one of the most enjoyable pies I’ve had in recent memory. The flavors were vibrant and well-balanced, the pie looked beautiful and it was quite easy to prepare. To put it in a word, it looked and tasted fun.
The pie starts with a prebaked pie shell – homemade, of course – and is filled with a cooked buttermilk/pineapple filling. I opted for canned pineapple because it is easy to work with and it’s convenient to be able to use some of the canning juice (not syrup, just juice) in the pie filling. The pudding is nice and thick, but not too rich. I think that the tangy buttermilk and tangy pineapple complement each other well and balance the sweetness of the filling (although I should note that it really isn’t all that sweet on its own; most of the sweetness comes from the pineapple).
Since the pie is a bit retro, I decided to go with a somewhat retro meringue recipe that I had jotted down. Ordinarily, I would use a cooked meringue because I find them to be the most stable and the least likely to weep or to pull away from the sides of a pie. This meringue recipe calls for the preparation of a thick cornstarch mixture that is added to beaten egg whites to stabilize them. The method is a bit odd, but the results were great and the meringue had a fantastic texture and held up very well even after a couple of days in the fridge.
That said, I can’t quite say the same for the pie crust, as some juices will definitely ooze from the filling from the juicy pineapple pieces in there. The bottom crust will get a bit soggy on the exposed edges if they sit in juice. I recommend using a pie gate to hold everything together if you’re going to be storing the sliced pie to ensure that the crust stays nice and flaky, otherwise just try to get everything eaten within a day or two for the absolute best results.
Pineapple Buttermilk Meringue Pie
1 9-in pie crust (homemade), prebaked
20-oz can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup pineapple juice (reserved from canned pineapple)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F.
Drain can of crushed pineapple and reserve 1/2 cup of pineapple juice (listed in ingredients above as a reminder not to discard the juice!).
In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Stir in pineapple, reserved pineapple juice, buttermilk, egg yolks and lemon juice. Stir well, then turn on the stove to medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. It will have a lemon curd type of consistency with slow bubbles when it is done.
Cover pan and cool to room temperature.
While filling cools, prepare the meringue.
In a small saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and becomes clear. Cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gradually beat in sugar, followed by the cooled cornstarch mixture (add in dollops with mixer on medium speed). Beat in vanilla extract.
Pour cooled pie filling into baked pie shell. Top with meringue, spreading it to the edges of the pie crust to cover the filling completely. Smooth top with a spatula.
Bake pie at 375F for 10-12 minutes, until meringue is lightly browned. Pie may also be put under the broiler to brown.
Cool, then refrigerate before serving.
Makes 1 pie; serves 8-10.