When I stepped up to the counter to pay my dinner bill, I noticed an array of wax paper-wrapped fried pies. The cashier said that a local lady makes them for the café, a retired woman named Helen. She explained that they’re a Southern tradition called “Jacks” and that apple was the original version. They’re also available in sweet potato and peach and sell for $2.50 each.
This went home with me to try later. Fortunately, I’d put it in a ziplock bag before packing it in my luggage, as the wax paper soaked through with oil. We heated it in the toaster oven to perk it up. The rolled edge crimp seems unique, and it’s a extra touch as other fried pies mostly have a crimp pressed in with a fork. The intense apple filling was barely sweet and had just a kiss of cinnamon. The fruit seemed firmish, and later I learned that this was made the traditional way with dried apples.
Maybe I was thinking about Edna Lewis and her concern that people would forget how to cook with lard. The very tender and flakey pastry tasted lard-based to me, or maybe it was fried in lard, but I wasn’t quite certain. I called the café to see if that might be the case. The lady at the other end didn’t know and in fact she doubted it as lard is little used anymore. But we did have a nice conversation about “Jacks”, a simple treat made with biscuit dough and dried apples. She did not know the origin of the name and has been trying to learn more about it herself. If anyone can fill us in, please post.
Deep-fried apple pie called a "Jack"
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How to make fried apple pies (cooked in lard)
A recipe for Fried Apple Jack Pies
Southern Foodways Alliance documentary, “& Fried Pies”
Old Southern Fried Jack Pie Mix
Nothin Fancy Cafe & Market
701 N Broad St, Edenton, NC 27932