This old fashioned Southern treat will be the star of your holiday table. We love this fluffy and easy Cranberry Buttermilk Pie in our house!
Earlier this fall, I was invited to tour a chicken hatchery and farm in North Carolina with a small group of bloggers*. We had a super great time eating our way through North Carolina’s finest establishments, but more importantly, we were allowed to take a rare behind-the-scenes look at chicken production. The company that we were allowed to tour was Sanderson Farms, a major chicken producer in the United States. Sanderson produces almost 10 million chickens each week (I know!) So, what does this have to do with this cranberry buttermilk pie? I’ll get there, I promise.
Our first stop on the tour was a chicken hatchery in Kinston, North Carolina. This is where eggs are incubated and eventually hatch. Once the baby birds are hatched, they’re cleaned and sprayed with immunizations, then shipped to a nearby farm, which was our next stop. I was honestly expecting this would be a bad experience for me, but that wasn’t the case. True, it was jarring to see a facility where hundreds of thousands of birds are hatched each day. But, the hatching and cleaning processes were clean and humane, and honestly, very simple.
When we arrived at the farm where hatchlings are delivered, I expected to see chickens in small cages with no room. Fortunately, chickens were living in houses that were open and actually very spacious, no cages in sight. I was surprised that most of the space was actually unoccupied because the birds were all huddled together (snuggling, if you will). Food and water came out of tubes periodically, and some of little chicks got wise and decided to just sleep right next to the feed trays. My kinda birds. While at the farm, we had the chance to ask a few employees questions and learned quite a bit. Like anything, chicken production is driven by demand, and we Americans LOVE our chicken! So while my gut reaction was to be overwhelmed by how many chickens were produced each week by Sanderson and other large chicken producers, I had to remember that my little family of three eats a TON of chicken. And, I expect it to be affordable. I also learned that it’s illegal to give chickens steroids of any kind, so any marketing that boasts “no steroids” is just that; marketing.
It’s disheartening to me that so many of us are far removed from our food growers, which is probably why over 30% of the food produced in America now is wasted. While I toured the farm, I kept thinking about all of the resources that go into making the chickens. The transportation, the feed, water, and energy to heat the houses. It’s really astounding when you think about it. I truly wish that everyone could see one of these facilities. I think they would leave with a much greater appreciation for the food in their refrigerator, and for the companies like Sanderson who work hard to produce it.
While we were in the area, we were fortunate to get to dine at an incredible restaurant, Chef and The Farmer. The food and hospitality was absolutely out of this world, and I got a ton of inspiration for recipes. This is where the buttermilk pie recipe comes in!
For dessert, we ordered a sampler and in that sampler was buttermilk pie. As a midwesterner, I had yet to taste this southern pie, but it was love at first bite! It had a tart blackberry lime sauce drizzled over the top, and was somehow creamy and fluffy at the same time. I loved the sweet custard with just a slight tang from the buttermilk. Seriously, I could NOT stop gushing about it and I think I fought my neighbors for bites. There was wine involved, I can’t be held accountable.
I left Chef and the Farmer determined to make a similar pie. Time passed, and I just didn’t get around to it. Well, pie season is upon us, and I had the idea make a buttermilk pie fit for my holiday table. I added in cranberries, which floated to the top and make their own special, tart crust that sits atop the fluffy custard. Custard maybe isn’t the right word, though. The pie I had at Chef and The Farmer was less custard-y, more fluffy, so I strove to create that same texture. I can’t imagine a holiday without this pie going forward. I hope you’ll give it a try for your holiday festivities this year!
- 1 frozen pie crust
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 and 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/8 tablespoon nutmeg
- 1 and 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a medium microwave-safe mixing bowl, add eggs. Beat until they start to froth.
- Add butter, sugar and flour. Beat until smooth.
- Stir in buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice, nutmeg and cranberries. Place in microwave for two minutes on high heat, stir vigorously, then add to pie crust.
- Lightly sprinkle top of pie with cinnamon (cinnamon/sugar mix is also great).
- Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, until the center is firm. A good way to test is to gently shake the pie and see if the middle wiggles at all.
- You will need to use crust covers for the first 30 minutes or so to keep the crust from burning. I make my own with aluminum foil, or you can find them in most stores.
- PLEASE do not skip the microwave step! It's crucial to getting the pie to "set" in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, you'll have bake the full 60 minutes, and your crusts will likely burn.
*Please note that my travel and related expenses were covered for this trip. However, all opinions in this post are 100% my own and not swayed by any outside influences.