My dad, Jack, reminisced about the little fried apple dumplings that his mother, Elizabeth, would make for him when he was a kid. Of course, like many passed-out family recipes, it wasn’t written anywhere, so Mama went to work, trying to figure out how to make them like her mom. This is never an easy task, as our childhood memories often make it impossible to replicate those original tastes. Beth and I remember those pockets of pre-made dough sitting on the kitchen counter, and Mama frying them in an iron skillet. We also remember how happy Daddy was with the result. We’re not surprised he got it right! Grandma Yearwood is 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, pitted, and sliced into -inch pieces
tsp ground cinnamon
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
cup packed light brown sugar
tsp kosher salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 pounds lard or
1½ quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1 box (2 crusts) refrigerated pie crust (I like Pillsbury)
4½-inch round cookie cutter
1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, brown sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup water, mix, and bring to a boil, covered, 5 to 7 minutes, then cook, uncovered, until apples are slightly softened , about 4 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 1 Tbsp water and mix. Pour the cornstarch solution into the apple filling and cook on a low flame for 2 minutes or until the liquid thickens.
3. Pour the apple mixture into a shallow bowl (a pie plate works great) and chill in the refrigerator for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Put 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 pieces of pie dough and cut out four circles from each of them using a 4 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. Gather scraps, roll out again, and cut out 2 more circles.
6. Fill each ball of dough with a tablespoon of apple filling, then, applying a little water to your fingers, moisten 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 becomes hot, then fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pie to a paper towel-lined tray and cool slightly, then repeat to fry remaining pie, allowing oil to return to 360°F between batches. enjoy the warmth.
Trisha’s Advice: The apple filling can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Excerpt from “Trisha’s Kitchen: Easy Comfort Meals for Friends and Family” (copyright) 2021 by Trisha Yearwood with Beth Yearwood Bernard. Reprinted with permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.