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A North Carolina Pie That Elicits An 'Oh My God' Response

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A North Carolina Pie That Elicits An 'Oh My God' Response

A North Carolina Pie That Elicits An 'Oh My God' Response

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There are days for cake, days for ice cream and cookies. But every now and then - especially after a big, satisfying meal - you might be inclined to just say no to dessert. Well, after this latest installment of our Found Recipes series, you might want to rethink that.

KATIE WORKMAN: Hi, I'm Katie Workman. I'm the author of "The Mom 100 Cookbook," and the creator of the Mom100.com blog. And I'm here to tell you about the most amazing pie I think I've ever had.

(SOUNDBITE FROM SONG "IT HAD TO BE YOU")

WORKMAN: I went down to North Carolina, and I made a beeline for Crook's Corner, which is a fabulous destination restaurant. It's been there for a very long time. It's a shrimp and grits and fried oysters and hushpuppies kind of Southern food restaurant. And the longtime chef, Bill Smith, was sending us out so much food. And we were having this amazing dinner, eating more than I think I've ever eaten in my entire life.

I had no intention of eating dessert, and then he sent out this pie. It is a creamy citrus filling - much like the filling of a key lime pie, or a lemon meringue pie - covered with billows of whipped cream; but the crust is made out of saltines. So it's this dense, crispy, thick, saltine-salty crust, which is such an amazing balance to this tanginess, and the sweetness of the inside.

When I first took a bite of this pie, I think the only reaction I had was, oh, my God; oh, my God; oh, my God. For quite a while, that was pretty much the only thing I could say. It definitely was a slightly "Harry Met Sally" moment. I think I was under control, but I was in sort of a fugue state, so I can't be sure.

BILL SMITH: Well, first of all, it's not really my pie. It's a pie that's served all over the coast of eastern North Carolina. My name is Bill Smith, and I am the chef at Crook's Corner Restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C. I called it Atlantic Beach Pie but down there, it's just called lemon pie. When we were growing up, everybody believed that - for some reason - that if you ate any kind of dessert after having seafood, that you would drop dead sick.

I asked my mother about that. I said, why do we think that? She said, I still think that. She still won't do it. But anyway, the one exception was this lemon pie that all the fish restaurants along the coast served. The best thing about this dessert is it takes like four seconds to make. You cook the crust for, like, 15 minutes and then the filling, another 15 minutes. You don't have to wait for the crust to cool.

The only thing that takes any time is it has to cool enough when you're done so you can cut it without making a mess, but it couldn't be faster.

WORKMAN: Oh, yes. I have that recipe and the pie was so ridiculously easy to make, but I'll tell you there was slightly sad grand finale to this pie, which is we ate a chunk of it and I covered it gently with saran wrap and we took it in the car someplace. And my husband left the car, jumped back and jumped into a different seat in the car and sat on the pie.

And I said, did you just sit on my pie? And he said, I think I did. How do you not know if you've sat on a pie? And I was so sad. Not sad enough to not eat it, but sad nonetheless. It was squished, but it was so good still.

BLOCK: Katie Workman talking about her favorite found recipe, Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie. And yes, you also heard Bill in there. You can get the recipe and see a picture of Katie's pie before it was sat upon on our Found Recipe page at NPR.org.

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