I’VE TALKED TO PEOPLE who call pies like these preacher pies, the reference being, I suppose, to the reward that follows a Sunday morning sermon. I’ve heard hunters talk of keeping a hot pie in the slash pocket of a tweed jacket on a cold morning. And at Whiffies Fried Pies, from which the recipe for these particular pies came, I’ve watched kids dance through the parking lot listening to hip-hop on their headphones while eating crescent-shaped salmon pies.
MAKES ENOUGH FILLING FOR 12 SMALL FRIED PIES
Whiffies Fried Pie Pastry
2 tablespoons blackening spice, preferably Chef Paul Prudhomme brand 8 ounces skinless wild salmon fillet 1 tablespoon vegetable oil ½ cup sliced green bell pepper ½ cup sliced onion 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice Chipotle Mayonnaise (recipe follows) Flour, for rolling out the pie pastry dough 2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying the pies
Make the fried pie pastry dough and refrigerate it as described in Step 1
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the blackening spice all over the salmon fillet. Cook the salmon until done to medium, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the salmon to a mixing bowl and set it aside. Do not wipe out the skillet.
Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until they begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bell pepper and onion to a separate bowl. Add the lemon juice to the skillet and cook briefly, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add these to the bell pepper and onion mixture.
Break up the salmon with a fork, then add the bell pepper and onion mixture and stir to combine. Add 2 tablespoons of the Chipotle Mayonnaise to bind the salmon filling and continue adding more of the mayonnaise until the filling is not as dense as a paste but not runny.
Roll out one piece of the pie pastry dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of ¼ inch. Using a small plate or saucer about 4 to 5 inches in diameter, trace circles on the dough with a knife and cut out the circles. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Place about 2 tablespoons of salmon filling in the center of one half of a circle of dough. Wet the inside edge of the dough with a little water and fold the other half of the dough over the filling to make a half-moon shape. Crimp the edge of the dough with a fork to seal it well. Repeat with the remaining circles of dough and filling, and then repeat with the second dough half.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven over high heat until a deep fry thermometer attached to the side of the pot registers 375°F. Working in batches and being careful not to overcrowd the pot, carefully add the pies to the hot oil and cook them until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pies to paper towels to drain.
I ONCE WORKED with a guy we called Mayonnaise. He was white, and he was bland, thus the nickname. (Come to think of it, so was I.) A hit of chipotles could have saved him from his bland self. In this recipe inspired by Whiffies, canned chipotles are used to great effect.
MAKES ABOUT 2¼ CUPS
2 cups mayonnaise ¼ cup sour cream 2 chipotle peppers ½ teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon ground cumin ½ teaspoon mild chili powder 1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Place the mayonnaise, sour cream, chipotle peppers, paprika, cumin, chili powder, lemon juice, salt, and sugar in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. The Chipotle Mayonnaise can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 weeks.