1/2 teaspoon salt (optional if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 tablespoon of bourbon (optional)
8oz bag (or 2 cups) of pecans, halves or pieces
1 pie crust, refrigerated, frozen, or your own
Ice cream or Cool Whip to go with it (optional)
9in pie pan with a depth of 1 to 1.5in works best but bigger is ok
Large bowl for mixing, hand/stand mixer optional but recommended
Pre-heat oven to 375F conventional bake.
Place room temperature pie crust inside pie pan.
Put half (or 1 cup) of the pecans on the bottom of the crust. Don't obsess over the amount, you just want to cover most of the bottom of the crust with a layer of pecans.
Melt the 1/3 cup butter. While it's melting, you can move on to the next step if you'd like to starting getting the other ingredients prepared and into the mixing bowl (don't combine until the butter is ready though).
Mix together melted butter, 1 cup packed dark brown sugar, 3/4 cup dark corn syrup, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of bourbon. Blend well, hand or stand mixer recommended. The mixture should be pretty thin and runny, smooth with few, if any, lumps, and brown in color.
Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
Distribute the remaining pecans on the top. If you want to get fancy, you can arrange them in a pattern for a really nice look. Try turning them all in the same direction, for example.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking at the 15min mark. When the crust is starting to turn a light golden brown color, you want to pull it out and cover the crust/edges in foil so they don't burn. Keep your oven closed to keep the heat in, and be careful as to not let the pie splash around when you pull it out as it will be very liquid still. To cover the edges, tear off a good size sheet of aluminum foil into four strips you can place around the pie crust. Don't worry if it's not perfectly on there, even just resting the strips on top in a square shape works fine to keep the crust from burning.
Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the center of the pie is set. What you are looking for is no or barely any movement at all from your pie if you move the pan around. While it's still cooking, you will notice the center will jiggle around and be fluid. The longer it cooks the more solid it will get, you want to pull it out once it's set and no longer moving.
Cool for at least 30 minutes.
Now the hard part. You can serve it warm, buttttt it tastes best if you refrigerate about two hours and then bring it back to room temperature before serving. Enjoying with cool whip, ice cream, and/or friends is highly recommended as well.