We’ve been having a fall weekend here in the coastal south – it was very refreshing to wake up to temperatures in the 60s and only have a high of 70 or so. What a great change from the sweltering heat we’ve had all summer. To me, fall is about college football, apple cider, leaves changing, and wanting to throw yourself off the roof at work–but we won’t go there. A friend of mine took a quick weekend trip to Asheville, NC and returned with a truck full of malus domestica, hand picked from a local orchard. What the heck was I going to do with all these Kazakhstani fruits? It’s pie time!
Peel, core, and chunk about six apples – the ones I received were golden delicious and granny smith – yellow and green all around. Using that contraption that rotates the apple around the peeler is wonderful if you have it, but if you don’t have one, prepare to be tortured with a hand peeler. Place the apple chunks in some acidulated water so they don’t turn brown.
Add the apple chunks into your dutch oven (mine is 4qt) along with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon (1tsp) and nutmeg (freshly grated, of course–1tsp). Add 2 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 cup of packed light brown sugar. Cook over medium heat for a good half an hour.
Take your potato masher to the filling and break up the large chunks – you want the filling chunky but not too chunky.
Because I don’t make pastry, I brought out a roll of refrigerated dough, floured my counter and rolled it out. I’m using a dessert bowl (diameter of 4″) to make my pie rounds. I gathered the excess dough, re-rolled it and made more rounds until there was nothing left. I could have made what my grandmother called a “cooter” out of the little bit that was left and tried to fill it, but I didn’t want a sticky mess all over my oven. A cooter was an elongated biscuit made out of whatever she had left. In the south, a turtle’s nickname is a cooter, but I don’t think the biscuits were turtle-shaped. Who knows.
Place a tablespoon of filling in each pie, fold and crimp with a fork. Use a bit of water around the edges before you crimp. It may help to refrigerate your half-moons before you fry to ensure that you can pick them up from the sheet pan without having them fall apart. Fry at 350 degrees in peanut oil until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar if you like (I don’t) while hot. Serve hot with ice cream or eat at room temperature out of hand.
Fried Apple Pies
by Jason Osborne
yield 12 pies
5-6 apples (not mealy cultivars)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
prepared pie crust
peanut oil, for frying
Peel, core, and chop apples into hunks. Place in acidulated water to prevent browning. Combine apples, sugar, cornstarch and spices in a dutch oven over medium heat and cook for 30 minutes until apple mixture is brown, fragrant, and apples have fallen apart. Mash large chunks with potato masher to a uniform consistency.
Roll out pie crust and cut circles using a bowl or other object. Place 1 tbsp of filling in the center of each, brush edges with water and crimp closed with a fork. Fry in clean peanut oil at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 4 minutes.