Southern Fried Apple Pies

Fried Apple Pies

Just as every culture has its own version of the dumpling they also have their version of the hand pie. In the South they're almost always fried apple pies, and they pop up everywhere. You can buy them at school athletics events in concession stands; they're always available at bake sales; several companies have their own version that are sold in vending machines (but yes, they're texturally different than the homemade kind); there is usually an apple stand at festivals and fairs selling all things apple - including fried apple pies; and if you're like me you can remember your own grandmother making them. They're neat, tasty and filling. They're easy to make and wrap and give as gifts. I don't know many people who dislike them. And they're terribly versatile. So of course every culture has its own version. But to get back to the South, let's talk apple ones.

This is a very basic fried apple pie recipe, and it doesn't include a recommended variety of apple for the filling. As with most apple pies I tend to use green apples because I think their tart taste is a perfect backdrop to added sugar, and they're less-juicy, fairly hard texture makes them great for foods where you want a bite of apple between your teeth and not just a bit of apple mush. Granny Smiths are the perfect choice because they're available year-round, and you can find them everywhere. Mine came from Washington so shhhh .... don't tell my local farmers! (I live in North Carolina, which is a top-10 apple-producing state.)

Let's just be upfront about this next part: Yes, they're fried. And yes, you can bake them, but they won't taste the same. Nobody is saying you have to eat the whole batch. Nobody is saying you can't go that baking route - I'm sure they'd be terribly tasty made that way. But if you want authenticity - even at the cost of your slim hips - try frying them one time. Try it if you dare, of course, because you may never go back to baking them again. Consider yourself warned.

This recipe calls for a powdered-sugar garnish at the end, but I prefer mine hot and plain with no frills - kind of like how I prefer my men. For those of you who like men who require a bit more maintenance you might try sprinkling yours with cinnamon and sugar or serving them along side a dollop of ice cream. But if you want my advice? Stick with the original. A fresh, fried apple pie wrapped in a paper towel is a perfect breakfast, snack or dessert. Trust me and all the other Southern grandmas who have learned the same thing.

Southern Fried Apple Pies
Adapted from AllRecipes
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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
2 apples, peeled and diced
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 to 1 cup vegetable oil

1. In a medium saucepan, add apples, sugar and cinnamon. Cook on low heat until apples are soft, then remove from heat and mash with a fork to create a thick applesauce. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, sift flour and salt. Cut in shortening. Add water and mix until dough sticks together and you can form a ball. Dump dough onto a well-floured surface and roll it out to about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut out 4-inch circles with a large cookie or biscuit cutter.
3. On each round drop 1 large tablespoon of apple mixture. Using your finger, moisten edges of dough. Fold in half then press edges closed with a fork.
4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry pies two to three minutes on each side, until golden. Drain on paper towels and, while still hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.