My dad, Jack, used to reminisce about small fried apple fritters that his mother, Elizabeth, would make for him when he was a kid. Of course, like many passed-down family recipes, this one wasn’t written down anywhere, so Mama went to work, trying to figure out how to make them just like his mama had. That’s never an easy job, because our childhood memories often make those original flavors impossible to replicate. Beth and I remember those premade dough pockets sitting on the kitchen counter, and Mama frying them up in a cast iron skillet. We also remember how happy Daddy was with the result. We’re not surprised she got it right! Grandma Yearwood always fried with lard, but if that scares you, vegetable oil is perfectly fine!
JACK’S FRIED PIES
Makes 10 pies
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced in ½-inch pieces
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 pounds lard or
1½ quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1 box (2 crusts) refrigerated pie crusts (I like Pillsbury)
4½-inch round cookie cutter
1. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, brown sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup water, stir, and cover to bring to a simmer, 5 to 7 minutes, then cook, uncovered, until the apples are slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water until combined and pourable. Stream the cornstarch slurry into the apple filling and cook on a low simmer for 2 minutes more, or until the liquid has thickened.
3. Pour the apple mixture into a shallow bowl (a pie plate works great) and cool in the fridge, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.
4. Put the lard or vegetable oil in a deep Dutch oven. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to its side and heat the lard over high heat to 360°F.
5. Lay out both rounds of pie dough and use a 4 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut four circles from each of them. Gather the scraps, roll out again, and cut out 2 more circles.
6. Fill each round of dough with a heaping tablespoon of the apple filling, then, using a little water on your fingers, wet the edge of the dough and press together into a half-moon. Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork to seal.
7. When all the pies are assembled and the oil is to temperature, fry 3 or 4 pies at a time for 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pies to a paper towel–lined tray to drain and cool slightly, then repeat to fry the remaining pies, letting the oil come back up to 360°F between batches. Enjoy warm.
Trisha’s Tip: The apple filling can be made the day before and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Excerpted from “Trisha's Kitchen: Easy Comfort Food for Friends and Family” (copyright) 2021 by Trisha Yearwood with Beth Yearwood Bernard. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.