Dallas chef Stephan Pyles redefined Texas cuisine in the eighties, giving a sophisticated treatment to down-home staples and adding the distinctive kick of chiles and Mexican spices. The founder of the dear departed Routh Street Cafe and its more casual offspring, Baby Routh (2708 Routh Street), Pyles shares his pioneering interpretations in a 450-page cookbook titled The New Texas Cuisine. Typical of Pyles’s genius is his recipe for black-bottom pecan pie—sin with a Southern accent—that crosses two classic desserts and uses more butter, bourbon, and whiskey than the law allows.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

In mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Mix in shortening with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle water over mixture one tablespoon at a time, stirring with fork. Form dough into ball and chill for 1 hour.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 1/8-inch-thick circle. Press into 9-inch pie pan; trim and crimp edges. Chill until ready to use.

Pie Filling

1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
5 teaspoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 unbaked piecrust (see recipe, above)
9 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 teaspoons bourbon
5 eggs
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate in double boiler over simmering water. In saucepan, heat cream and granulated sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in chocolate until thoroughly blended.

Spread mixture evenly over bottom of pie shell. Freeze to set chocolate. Melt butter and set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and bourbon until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly with mixer. Beat in butter until smooth.

Arrange pecan halves evenly in pie shell and pour in filling. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until center of pie is set. To serve, drizzle slices with whiskey sauce (see recipe, below). Serves 8 to 10.

Whiskey Sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon very hot water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup rye whiskey

Melt butter in double boiler over simmering water. In small bowl, whisk together sugar and egg, then stir into melted butter. Add hot water and simmer about 7 minutes, stirring until mixture coats back of spoon. Cool to room temperature. Stir in cream and whiskey.