Chocolate Chess Pie

Chess Pie … A Southern Tradition, Y’all!

Chess Pie is a Southern staple with historical roots in England. Though its basic ingredients – butter, sugar, eggs and flour – can be found in any Southern pantry, the variations on Chess Pie can seem as far-fetched as the folklore surrounding its etymology.

Many folks believe that its name originated from the closely related English lemon curd pie, which often was called cheese pie; “Chess Pie” allegedly derived from Southerners’ tendency to drawl our words. Another version tells of a plantation cook who was asked what she was baking that smelled so great: “Jes’ pie” (just pie) was her answer. Yet another myth states that the pie’s high sugar content allowed it to keep well in a pie chest at room temperature, so “Chest Pie” turned into “Chess Pie.”

Though basic Chess Pie is remarkably easy to prepare by mixing simple ingredients and baking for 30 minutes, you can get fancy by adding innovative flavorings. Popular additions include zesty lemon juice, earthy nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, tropical flaked coconut, and toasted, chopped pecans. Some believe a splash of buttermilk makes Chess Pie better, while others swear by a tablespoon of vinegar. If you’d like to double the decadence, just stir in some cocoa powder!

Whether you call it cheese pie, chest pie or “jes’ pie,” there are no boundaries to this traditional Southern confection. - Chef Russell Shinn, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen (Cary)

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Chocolate Chess Pie
(makes 1 pie)


4 eggs
1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1⁄2 tablespoons white cornmeal
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 pound melted butter
1 unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then assemble pie as described below.

Chocolate Chess Pie Recipe

In a bowl, sift dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Chocolate Chess Pie Recipe

Add vanilla, cream and butter and mix until incorporated.

Chocolate Chess Pie7

Pour into an unbaked pie shell (see recipe below). Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool; serve cold.

Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Housemade Pie Crust (makes 3 pie shells)

4 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
1 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold water

Pie Crust Recipe

Sift the flour and salt together. Freeze the butter then grate it to make it easier to handle. Work the cold butter into the flour mix.  Add ice to water to make it cold, make sure you don’t pour any ice into the dough mixture.

Pie Crust Recipe 2

Add water slowly and mix until just combined. Portion out enough for one shell and begin to roll it into shape on a floured surface.

Pie Crust Recipe

This recipe makes 3 pie shells. Freeze any unused portions.




Disclaimer: All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch sizes. This recipe has been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size.

Pork Shank Braised in Red-Eye Gravy on slow-cooked pinto beans, topped with green tomato chowchow

Pork Shank Braised in Red-Eye Gravy

Pork comes in all shapes and sizes. Chops, loins, butts and bellies seem to get the most love in the kitchen, but did you know that the shank can be a dandy piece of meat, too? It’s an excellent, but often-overlooked choice: When properly cooked, it’s full of flavor and super-easy to make.

So what exactly is a pork shank? It’s a cut of meat from the lower leg of a pig. It tends to be leaner because it doesn’t have much fat. As a result, if you cook it the wrong way, you’ll never tear that meat off the bone. Lucky for you, Lucky’s braising recipe will have you going “hog wild” for the pork shank!

Red-Eye Braised Pork Shank (Serves 4*)
4 each pork shank
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
2/3 cup all purpose flour
4 fluid ounces canola oil
1 1/3 cup yellow onion – diced
1/2 pound carrots – sliced
4 stalks celery
3 each bay leaves
2 2/3 cup ham stock
2 cups double strength coffee


Prep veggies, meat, stock and spices. Dredge pork shank in flour. Shake off excess flour, but reserve. Heat oil in a wide, heavy bottomed pot. Sear and brown shank on all sides over medium heat


When fully browned, remove shank from pot and let rest. Add reserved flour to pot and stir well to make brown roux. When brown color is achieved, add onions, celery and carrots to roux.


Add salt, pepper, bay leaves and ham stock, continuing to stir. Stir in coffee. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. You have now made our modernized version of red-eye gravy.

Return pork shank to a pot and pour the Red Eye Gravy. partially cover pot while simmering until meat is tender, vegetables over it. partially cover pot while simmering until meat is tender, about 2 hours.

Return pork shank to a pot and pour the red-eye gravy and vegetables over it. Partially cover  the pot while simmering until meat is tender, about 2 hours.


*All our recipes were originally designed for much larger batch sizes. These recipes have been reduced – but not tested at this scale. Please adjust as to your taste and portion size.
Me (Jay Pierce) with our farmers' cart.

Seasons Change

As I look out of the window on this overcast day, I can’t help but think about the fact that summer is fading and all of the lovely produce that we have been enjoying recently will not reappear for months. However, I rejoice at what is to come – although autumn’s bounty is less celebrated than summer’s, it is no less delectable.

In the same spirit, I would like to share with you that I have accepted a position with a restaurant in Charlotte, so I will be handing over the reins of culinary operations at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro to our general manager Felicia McMillan and her more-than-capable team. Felicia is not new to this, she has been with this outfit for 12+ years, including five as Chef de Cuisine. I have no doubts that she and her colleagues will carry the southern culinary baton like championship relay runners. In Cary, long timers Russell Shinn and Shane Garrity will continue to provide you with earnest hospitality and make sure the collard greens are as good as ever.

It would be dishonest to imply that I have been any more than a gear in the great machine of Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen. It takes right many noble souls to provide the highest quality hospitality at a great value that our guests have come to expect from us. That team, led by Dennis Quaintance and many others, is committed to guaranteeing that the flavors continue to make your eyes roll back in your head and the gracious hospitality of our service team does not skip a beat.

I will miss all of the wonderful people that I have had the honor of serving in the Greensboro and Cary communities over the last eight years. I can only move on from this delicious endeavor to the next stage of my career because I feel safe in the knowledge that all of our wonderful advocates will be cared for with the same or even greater care than they have been in the past.

I look forward to dining in our restaurants in the future as a guest … and enjoying some of that delicious skillet-fried chicken while sitting down.

-Chef Jay Pierce

Jay Pierce

It takes a village!

Potatoes on the Lucky 32 Vegetable Cart!

De-Commoditizing the Humble, Delicious Potato

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 47. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms through the eyes and palate of Chef Jay Pierce. BY JAY PIERCE Potatoes are so humble. Much like cucumbers, they tend to be overlooked … Continue reading

Garden Cukes from Richardson Farm

What do you do with all those cucumbers?

LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 46. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms through the eyes and palate of Chef Jay Pierce. BY JAY PIERCE The three vegetables that I most associate with summer are tomatoes, summer … Continue reading