WHIFFIES FRIED PIE PASTRY WITH COCONUT CREAM PIE FILLING
IN TEXTURE, the dough of Whiffies Fried Pies recalls an elephant ear served straight from a trailer at an idealized county fair. To get the best results with this recipe, inspired by Gregg Abbott’s work, keep your eye on the oil temperature.
MAKES 12 FRIED PIES
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¾ cup lard or vegetable shortening
¾ cup milk
Coconut Cream Pie Filling (recipe follows)
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying the pies
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the lard or shortening and, using a pastry blender or fork, cut the fat into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the milk over the flour mixture, gently incorporating it with your hands just until the dough comes together to form a ball. Divide the dough in half, wrap each half with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for about 1 hour.
- Roll out one piece of the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of ¼ inch. Using a small plate or saucer, trace circles to cut out disks 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
- Place 2 tablespoons of coconut cream 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 together with a fork to seal it well. Repeat with the remaining circles of dough and filling.
- 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. Cook the pies for 2 to 3 minutes, turn them over and continue cooking them until golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pies to paper towels to drain.
Coconut Cream Pie Filling
THIS RECIPE, from Gregg, is unapologetically low-rent, by which I mean it’s an honest reflection of how cooks across America often adapt traditional recipes to suit the constraints of time and commitment.
MAKES ENOUGH FILLING FOR 12 FRIED PIES
½ cup canned coconut cream
1 quart nondairy whipped topping
4 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding
8 ounces shredded unsweetened coconut
In a large bowl, fold the coconut cream into the whipped topping. Add the instant pudding and whip until thick, about 3 minutes. Add the shredded coconut and stir to incorporate.
Hawthorne Boulevard and SE 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
WHIFFIES FRIED PIES
GREGG ABBOTT, the young man who stands tall by the fryer well in this trailer each night, traces the origins of deep-fried pocket pies to Oklahoma and Texas. He also mentions Argentina and Colombia, where empanadas are beloved. And he factors in the influence of his adopted
hometown of Portland, too. (A hand-drawn sign tacked to the cart reads “Let us know if you want your pie cooked in the vegan fryer.”)
Gregg’s trailer is a repurposed model that looks like it was serving the state fair circuit until recently. Plastered on the side is his logo, an anthropomorphic pie person wearing a Zorro-style mask. Crescent-shaped pies stuffed with coconut cream or marionberries define the sweet end of the spectrum, with chicken pot pie and franks and beans on the savory end.