Southern Stories
Jan 27/17

I Spy Fried Pies Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

Pie: the original anti-depressant.

Whether you’ve burned the toast, spilled your coffee, got the furthest parking spot at work, worked late or had a tussle with a loved one, if you hear/see/smell pie, your day ain’t half bad.

Southerners made an art form of pie. During the hardest times, we usually had flour, fat and water. Add some fruit (whatever is in season) or vegetables (ditto) or meat (whatever you are lucky enough to acquire), dice finely and envelope in a simple dough. If you have fat left over (lard, butter, bacon renderings), you could slip these delicacies into the pan and pop out heaven in a pouch. If you didn’t have anything in which to fry the pies, you could layer in a cast iron vessel, cover with hot coals and bake until puffy. When it comes to pie, where there is a will, there is a way.

Like art, fried pies and hand pies (hand pies are baked) have only gotten better with age. Today, you can get commercially-prepared fried pies at convenience stores, fast food restaurants and bbq joints. Hand pies, too, are on the cutting-edge of chic with artisan bakers making their own from locally-sourced ingredients and using innovative flavor combinations like peach-blueberry, mocha, mayhaw (an indigenous berry) and pawpaws (a fruit kind of like a banana; also indigenous to the South).

Meat pies also are making a strong stand on the foodie front. Similar to an empanada, meat pies are a convenient – and cheap – way to eat a meat and three in one package. Like sweet pies, meat pies can use any meat filling that is available – beef, pork, chicken, venison. Other meat sources can be used, too – squirrel, quail, etc. – but we’ll stick with beef and pork for now.

If you are inspired to make your own fried or hand pies, here’s a place to start. First, make your own crust or get some premade at the grocery store. Roll out and cut into squares, rectangles, triangles, circles – whatever. For the filling, you can make your own or use prepared pie filling. Depending on the size of your dough, dollop in one or two tablespoons of filling, fold dough in half and pinch edges of pie dough together to completely seal in the filling.

If you want to fry them, heat up some cooking oil or lard in a deep skillet. Gently place one to three pies in the oil and fry until golden brown and delicious. Any more than three will lower the temperature of the oil, and the pies won’t fry as well. Fruit, chocolate or cream cheese fried pies are good warm with ice cream, whipped cream, powdered sugar or a dash of cinnamon, or they can be served at room temperature.

If you want to bake them, layer baking pans with waxed or parchment paper, place pies three inches apart and bake for 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Meat or savory fried pies can be served with salsa, sour cream or cheese and make perfect lunches or snacks. Served with a salad, you’ve got a nutritious meal.

Individual Raisin Pies
1 lb. raisins (golden would be especially good in this, but any raisin of your choice is fine)
1/2 orange, sliced thin
1/4 lemon, sliced thin
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 pie crust (homemade or store-bought)
Oil for deep frying OR 425 degrees F for baking

In a sauce pan, mix raisins with orange and lemon slices. Cover with water and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter and sugar. Mix well and place in refrigerator until chilled.

While mixture is chilling, roll out pie crust and cut into four equal shapes. Add two tablespoons of filling into each crust. Fold together and seal by pressing edges of dough with fingers or a fork.

To cook, fry in hot oil in a deep skillet until brown. Drain and serve. To bake, place on a covered baking sheet and place in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes. Check doneness at 15 minutes and adjust time as needed until pies are done.

Photos courtesy of Dancing in the Kitchen

Because of her love of pie, KD Reep now follows a high protein/low carb diet. When not reading up on the carb counts of groceries, Reep works at Flywrite Communications, Inc., the premier marketing communications agency of Mabelvale, Arkansas. Follow her at Flywrite Inc or on Twitter: @kdreep.



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