As a certain late 20th century U.S. President used to brag, no state grows them bigger, sweeter and juicier than does Arkansas.
If fact, among the towns and cities of this northern Southern state (or is it southern Midwestern, or eastern Western?) no place is more famous for its delicious, cooling succulent watermelons than Hope, Arkansas, birthplace of Bill Clinton.
This citified country place (or is it more a countryfied city?) even has its own annual Watermelon Festival, complete with seed-spitting contests and prizes for the biggest and roundest of them alll.
And by the time the festival has rolled around in August, those green-rinded fellers sure grow into some mighty monster melons.
Transferring true Watermelon taste to pie form, however, is a bit of a challenge, given the grainy yet watery consistency of the fruit. It sure ain’t as easy as apple pie. Too much melon is sure to crumble any crust right quick. Most iterations, all well and good, tend to come out more like watermelon puddin’n’crackers than good ole pie.
This original recipe, created by Perre Coleman Magnuss of the Runaway spoon is as fresh a bite of the real-deal as you’ll find. No fake-flavored jello, no globby Cool Whip filler, just juicy red summertime eatermelon…without the seeds.
Cutting a bit fast to the chase, it basically gets a cookie-crumbled crust. Magnuss uses one made from crushed Lorna Doone shortbread cookies and butter and sugar, but graham cracker tastes mighty fine too.
Either way, be sure to bake it, then cool it a bit before filling in the filling.
And when its all set and frigged something good, be sure to gussy it some with sweetened whipped cream to smooth out the sweetness a bit.
And while a truly mouth-watering and cooling slice of this will hold its own in any pie-eating contest, in the end it’s probably a lot more fun to enter an eating context for the real thing.
ARKANSAS WATERMELON PIE
6 cups seedless watermelon cubes (from about a 4 pound slice), to make about 4 cups puree
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon lime juice
Puree the watermelon chunks in a blender, then pour it through a wire sieve into a large saucepan. Push on the solids to extract the juice, then discard the solids and thoroughly rinse the sieve. You should have around 4 cups of puree. Measure out 1/4 cup of the watermelon juice with a small measuring jug and set aside. Add the sugar to the watermelon juice in the pan, stir, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.While the juice is coming to the boil, add the cornstarch to the reserved juice and whisk until the mixture is completely smooth.
When the juice is boiling, whisk the cornstarch mixture again, then whisk it into the boiling juice. Boil for 4 minutes, whisking constantly and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot. The mixture will begin to thicken. Pour the mixture through the cleaned sieve into a bowl to remove and lumps that might form. Leave the filling to cool for about 20 minutes.
Scrape the slightly cooled mixture into the prepared crust, smoothing it out to fill the crust and have a nice, flat surface. Chill the crust in the fridge for an hour until it’s a little firm, then cover it with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until completely firm. It is okay if the plastic wrap sticks to the filling, it will come right up.