North Carolina Barbecue Society

Jim Early's Banana Pudding

4 quarts Half-n-half (milk)
12 tablespoons (level) cornstarch
4-1/4 cups white sugar
16 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
6-7 fully ripe, firm bananas, sliced
1 box Nabisco Nilla Wafers

Separate the whites and yolks of six eggs. Set the six egg whites aside. In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients, cornstarch, four cups sugar and salt together. In another large bowl whisk your ten whole eggs and the yolks from six eggs until the mixture is well blended. Continuing to stir, pour in milk. Then continuing to stir add dry ingredients at point of stirring to prevent lumps. When your liquid is satin smooth pour into double boiler and cook, uncovered over hot almost boiling water stirring constantly. When your custard begins to thicken (approximately 20 minutes or when it will coat a wooden spoon) remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Set custard aside to cool some while you prepare your baking dish.

Line bottom and sides of a 9x13 or larger baking dish with Nilla wafers; cover the bottom layer of Nilla wafers with sliced bananas. Pour a small amount of custard over your first layer of wafers and bananas and repeat until the dish is full with the top layer being custard. Do not fill to the top but allow approximately 1/2 inch for meringue. Whisk the remaining egg whites, stiff but not dry. Add 1/4 cup of sugar as you whisk and continue to whisk until mixture forms stiff peaks. Spread meringue on top of pudding covering entire top to each edge. Bake in preheated oven (425 degrees) for five minutes or until light golden brown.

Set pudding aside to cool for several hours and allow the Nilla wafers, bananas and custard to get to know one another. If the pudding is not to be eaten within 4-5 hours of completing, place toothpicks in the pudding to support aluminum foil, cover completely and refrigerate.

When serving later the pudding does not have to be reheated but simply brought out and allowed to rest at room temperature for an hour or so before serving. Serves 12-15.

Excerpt from page 339 of The Best Tar Heel Barbecue, Manteo to Murphy by Jim Early