The first key lime pie I made was in Los Angeles in the late eighties. I got the recipe from Kit Rachlis, after he’d made it for a dinner party. I later bought a post card in Florida with the same recipe—so I assume it is the classic (or at least one classic version).
I call it key lime pie, but rarely use key limes. Key limes--at least the ones that travel here from the keys or from Mexico--are a complete pain. They are tiny--very tiny--and not particularly juicy--so you have to cut and squeeze a massive number of little fruits to get the required three quarters of a cup of juice. It is possible that they have a much more complex and intriguing flavor-they are supposed to be more acidic-but I would think differences among limes might well be erased by all that condensed milk. Although I was initially elated when Trader Joe's introduced key limes, my enthusiasm for those little fruits didn't last very long. Many of the limes, at least those of the Trader Joe persuasion were almost juiceless and I for one could not detect any superiority of flavor. Now I pass them up for big fat California limes (which are in fact called Persian limes). Perhaps someday I will go to Key West--pluck some limes off a key lime tree and discover that they are in another league altogether. We shall see.
Preheat oven to 375.
In a 10' pie pan mix 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup finely chopped almonds, and 1/8-1/4 cup sugar--with 6 tablespoons melted butter. Bake for about 8 minutes.
Take out of oven and lower heat to 350. Beat six egg yolks till light and fluffy. Add one 14 oz can condensed milk --mix in well---then add 3/4 cup fresh squeezed limejuice--key lime or Persian--and two teaspoons grated lime. Pour onto crust and cook for about 20 minutes.
If you'd like you could top it with whipped cream. In diners you always see it topped with meringue--which makes great sense since you have all those egg whites left over, but not being a big meringue fan, and not thinking the cream is really necessary, I usually serve it unadorned.