A bean pie is a pie made, as the name would seem to suggest, with beans that have been mashed or pureed. Classically, bean pie is made as a custard pie, much like pumpkin or sweet potato pie, and the dish is often associated with the American South and with the soul food culinary tradition. Bean pies can be eaten plain or served with a topping such as whipped cream or ice cream, and they can come in a variety of flavors.
Navy beans are a classic choice for bean pies, although other varieties can be used as well. The beans are cooked until they are soft and then blended with milk, eggs, sugar, and spices. Nutmeg and cinnamon are some common choices of spices, although cooks sometimes experiment with other additions. The bean filling is poured into a pie crust and then baked until the custard sets.
The resulting pie is rich and dense, with a high protein content and lots of healthy vitamins and minerals. Bean pies also lack a distinctly beany flavor, thanks to the other ingredients, and the gastrointestinal issues associated with bean consumption are usually not a problem with bean pie, since the beans are thoroughly cooked and then baked. The texture of the pie can be varied by changing the texture of the bean puree, with some pies being slightly chunky, while others are very smooth.
Bean pies are sometimes known as “mock pecan pies” in the South, where they have been served at picnics and parties for quite a long time. The bean pie is also a staple of some black Muslim communities in the United States, probably because it is an integral part of the soul food tradition. Numerous bakeries affiliated with the Nation of Islam sell bean pies, and they may be sold at fundraisers for black Muslim churches. Someone looking for a taste of bean pie who happens to live near an American black Muslim community might be able to find some examples readily available, and some bakeries also ship.
There is another variant on the basic bean pie which takes the pie in an entirely different direction to create a savory pie. This style of bean pie is usually made in the Southwestern tradition, and it includes mashed beans, cheese, corn, chilies, and other Southwestern ingredients. It may be served with sour cream, salsa, and hot sauce, and it can make an excellent appetizer or an intriguing potluck item.