Tag Archives: southern food

Fried Pineapple Pies

Fried Pineapple PiesI had big plans for Pi Day, the day on which we celebrate both pie and math, which falls on March 14th (aka 3.14, aka tomorrow). For months, my plan had been to make an Old-Fashioned Pineapple Pie, the sort of southern grandma food that makes my heart sing. I had read about this dessert sometime last year and decided that I would aim to have it perfected by today, but as usual, my plans never play out in the linear fashion that I’d prefer.Fried Pineapple PiesMy attempt at Pineapple Pie was ostensibly fine. The crust was golden, the filling was set, the crimp was maybe my best ever, but when I went to try a slice, all I could think was how…soft…it was. The flavor was good and I suppose I’d prefer that it be soft over crunchy, but still. It was just so…soft.Fried Pineapple PiesI was ready to go back to the drawing board, looking over my (long) list of recipe ideas when I noticed “fried pies” tacked onto my future-pie-inspo. That’s when it hit me: while I may not want an inch-thick layer of pineapple filling, a little bit folded into a crispy southern-style fried hand pie seemed like a very good idea.Fried Pineapple PiesNow, having made these Fried Pineapple Pies twice, I can confirm that they are indeed a very good idea. A phenomenal idea, really. The combination of sweet, tangy, lime- and ginger-spiked pineapple filling and flaky fried crust is one of the best things to come out of my kitchen this year!Fried Pineapple PiesThe crust and filling come together ahead of time—the filling in five minutes on the stovetop and the crust in the bowl of a food processor—and are then combined shortly before frying. Pineapple filling is doled out by the tablespoon before being folded into a triangle. The pies are sealed with egg and crimped with a fork before being lowered into a pot of 350F oil. Two or three minutes later, they are lifted out, golden and flaky and begging for a dusting of confectioner’s sugar before being eaten warm ❤Fried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesA few things about the crust before I get to the recipe:

  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can absolutely make this dough with a pastry blender (or two forks) in a mixing bowl.
  • The dough will stay soft even after a multi-hour chill. This is because there’s a fair amount of buttermilk in relation to the flour and butter, but rest assured that a chill will allow it to roll like a dream.
  • Don’t stress yourself out about keeping the dough cold after you shape the pies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have space for two sheet pans full of raw hand pies in my fridge. If these were being baked, I’d probably advise you to make a greater effort at chilling before cooking, but I’ve had no issues letting these pies sit at room temperature before they hit the oil. The crust still fries up nice and flaky. Love that.

Fried Pineapple PiesNo need for words on the pineapple filling—it’s basically the same as the filling in my Coconut Pineapple Cake and Pineapple Sweet Rolls! Sweet, tart, jammy, and so deliciously easy.Fried Pineapple PiesWell, I think that covers the pie portion of Pi Day. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to properly celebrate the math…but probably not.Fried Pineapple Pies

Fried Pineapple Pies
makes 20-22 hand pies

Crust:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk

Filling:
16 ounces (2 8-ounce cans) canned crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
zest of 1 medium lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To Seal:
1 large egg, beaten

For Frying:
canola oil, safflower oil, shortening, or other oreferred frying fat

For Garnish:
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

One Hour to Three Days Ahead:

Make the dough. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and process until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add buttermilk and process until dough clumps, stopping to scrape down the bowl if needed. Give dough a knead or two before dividing it in half, forming each into a disk, and wrapping them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. Dough will remain slightly soft even after chilling.

Make the filling. Combine crushed pineapple in juice, sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, salt, and lime zest and juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until juices are clear and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let cool to room temperature before chilling in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

When You Want to Fry:

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside. Line another baking sheet with paper towels and set a cooling rack over the top. Set near where you will be frying.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a ruler and a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the dough into 4×4-inch squares. Stack squares on a plate. Chill scraps and squares while you roll and cut the second disk of dough. Scraps may be kneaded lightly and re-rolled.

Working with one square at a time, roll lightly on the floured surface just to expand another 1/2-inch or so. Drop 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the square. Brush two meeting-edges with beaten egg and fold the square diagonally to create a triangle. Press to seal with your fingers before crimping with the floured tines of a fork. Place pie on parchment-lined pan. Repeat with remaining dough/filling. Don’t worry too much about dough becoming soft or sticky.

Pour canola oil (or other frying fat) into a very dry heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium heat until it reaches 350F.

Working with 2 pies at a time, fry them for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden, before using a frying spider to remove to prepared rack/pan. Repeat with remaining pies, letting the oil return to temperature as needed.

When all pies are fried, dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve immediately, while warm.

Fried Pineapple Pies are best the day they are made.

Note:

If you do not have a food processor, this may be done in a large mixing bowl with a pastry blender or two forks.Fried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple Pies

Advertisements

Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyI know what you’re thinking. “Chocolate…gravy? GROSS.”

But hear me out. I have hated almost every gravy I’ve ever encountered, if I was even willing to take a bite in the first place. I’m not generally opposed to sauces, but the…gloppiness…of the cream gravies of my Texan childhood pretty much ruined them for me, with one notable exception: Chocolate Gravy.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

If you’ve never heard of such a thing, imagine a thin, flour-thickened chocolate pudding that you spoon over Buttermilk Biscuits, preferably made by your old Texan grandma. You know, the one who lets you stay up late watching The Golden Girls and always has chocolate cake on the counter (and lets you slice it without supervision, so you’re really sugared-up when you go back to your parents’ house).Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

I had one of those grandmas. Her name was Dorothy, but I called her Nonnie, and she was the very best. She let my little sister and I eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch and frozen pizza for dinner on Friday nights (followed up by the aforementioned chocolate cake), but Sunday mornings were sacred.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

You see, my dad went to her house for breakfast on Sundays, so she’d pull out all the stops. Even when she was very old and had arthritic hands, she would make sausage patties, eggs fried in bacon grease, sliced tomatoes, and biscuits & gravy. They’d eat breakfast and she’d play with our dog, Lily, while my dad took one of his signature twenty-minute snoozes in the recliner. On the rare occasion that my sisters and I were allowed to skip church and join in on Sunday breakfast at Nonnie’s, she’d add Chocolate Gravy to the menu, just because she loved us.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

I’ve been thinking about Nonnie a lot lately. Maybe it’s because what would have been her 100th birthday is coming soon or because she was an amazing improvisational baker or because today marks eleven years living in NYC. Or maybe just because she was a badass lady. Whatever the reason, I’ve been craving Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy lately. And so, here we are.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyButtermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyButtermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

This is not Nonnie’s recipe—as far as I know, she never wrote anything down. Instead, it’s the product of a little trial and error and some taste memory from twenty years ago. I do know that the chocolate gravy I ate as a child was made with the Hershey’s cocoa that came in a can, but as I have never seen that in NYC, I recommend using whatever unsweetened cocoa you like. Dutch process cocoa will make for a deeper chocolate flavor, but natural unsweetened yields the lighter flavor I remember.Buttermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsButtermilk Biscuits

As for the biscuits, this recipe is a slight departure from my previous all-time best biscuit recipe. Both are delicious, but I am currently partial to this fluffier, slightly more tender version. Buttermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsButtermilk BiscuitsThese buttermilk biscuits are made with a touch of cornstarch to mimic the tenderness of cake flour. I also added a smidge more flour and buttermilk, yielding a slightly softer dough. In addition, I’ve taken out the beat-with-a-rolling-pin step, and chosen to bake the biscuits close together on a parchment-lined baking sheet instead of packed into a casserole dish. Regardless of which biscuit recipe you choose though, you’re going to love them drizzled (or smothered) with Chocolate Gravy.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

This weekend, do like Nonnie. Make some Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy for someone you love.Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits
makes about 12 biscuits

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4-1 cup buttermilk,* very cold
Chocolate Gravy, for serving (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Cut your stick of butter into two 4 tablespoon pieces. Cut one piece into four batons, and cut the other into very thin pats. Refrigerate until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add chilled butter. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas.

Pour in 3/4 cup cold buttermilk. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. If it seems dry, add more buttermilk by the tablespoon.

Turn dough (and any unincorporated flour bits) out onto a floured surface. Flour your fingertips and pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Fold dough in half, and turn one quarter turn. Pat out until it is 1/2-inch thick again. Repeat folding/quarter-turning/patting out until you have done it four times total. Re-flour your surface as necessary.

Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or sharp knife (not serrated). Cut directly down—do not twist. Place biscuits close together in your prepared pan. Pat biscuit dough scraps into a cohesive piece, and cut until you have used all your dough.

Brush biscuits with extra buttermilk.

Bake biscuits for 14-15 minutes, until they have risen and are starting to brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes. Serve with Chocolate Gravy, if desired.

Biscuits are best the day they are made, but can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Note:

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, use this alternative. Pour 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup. Pour regular milk up to the 1-cup mark. Let sit 5 minutes in the refrigerator. Stir mixture before proceeding with the recipe.

Chocolate Gravy
makes about 2 cups

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups milk (preferably whole)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, and salt into a 4-quart pot. Gradually whisk in milk. Place pot over medium heat and whisk continuously until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer to a gravy boat or other serving vessel. Serve over split Buttermilk Biscuits. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat before serving.

Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate GravyButtermilk Biscuits