“An Oklahoma Delicacy”: Fried Pies
Before frying became the go-to culinary move – from fried oreos to fried butter – there were fried pies. Depending on who you ask, they started here in Oklahoma. Maybe not surprising that a state featuring fried okra and chicken fried steak in its official state dish also has mastered frying dessert. As part our continuing series Oklahoma Revealed, I veered off Interstate 35 at Exit 51 to get a taste…
Tucked behind the Arbuckle Mountains, it first looks like an abandoned gas station.
Then you walk through the door and the smell greets you like a mother waiting for your return after freshman year of college. Except, it’s pies we’re talking about here, not people. Still, it’s that good…
“That pie needs to taste so good that if a man buys a pie, and he’s standing there to take a bite to see if he wants to buy some more to take home, and he takes a bite, and he ducks his left shoulder down very quickly and takes another bite, I’ve got him. He’s my customer.”
My tour guide for the visit.
“I’m Nancy Fulton and I’m well known as the fried pie lady”.
So let’s get to the recipe.
“A lot of people call it recipes. At home I say a recipe, in my business I say formulas.”
Excuse me, Nancy’s formula dates back to the late 19th century. Before Oklahoma became a state, Nancy’s grandmother Nancy was making hand held pies to bring out to the men working in the field. Some of the ingredients have changed – gone from lard to Crisco – but that’s about it. Of course, she’s had her doubters.
“The first time I started up a pie business, the banker said, ‘You think you’re going to make a living on just one thing?’ And I said, ‘Well Coca-Cola didn’t do too bad’”
Now, she’s still going strong at age 70.
You want me to make you a pie? Let me put some glue on there…”
Wait, it’s not really glue – just stuff to keep the dough stuck together.
The steps seem pretty simple. But there’s a couple special little touches that the Pie Lady says makes her’s the best. But to get a fried pie, well you have to give the dough and filling a bath in some peanut oil.
It comes out looking like, well, a fried pie. Shape some dough around filling like a semi circle, and you’ve got the basics. And there’s enough choices to make three meals– the standard fruits – apple, cherry, apricot, blackberry, then you’ve got your cream – coconut, chocolate, etc, or your breakfast, lunch or dinner – sausage, cheese and egg, spinach and mushroom, tex mex, and more. I went the predictable route, with apple…
“Yeah, that’s good. There’s no doubt about that.”
“You would eat that?”
“I would absolutely eat that.”
“It is good, isn’t it?”
“Now, I know I didn’t do the left shoulder, but you got me, you got me.”
“If you was a Southerner, you would have. Being a Yankee, you didn’t know to do that.”