This is what many southerners call fried apples, but they are not deep-fried (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Traditional southern recipes often used the word “fried” to mean anything cooked in a skillet in a bit, or a lot, of fat. Fried apples are usually breakfast food, so they are often cooked in the drippings du jour left in the skillet from frying the breakfast meat, such as bacon, country ham, or sausage. They are also delicious in butter. Most people add a little sugar. My grandmother’s aunt seasoned her fried apples with sugar, salt, and a pinch of hot pepper. (She also swabbed the inside of her lower lip with a birch twig brush dipped in snuff and cursed like a sailor back when few folks uttered so much as an expletive.)
Small, firm apples work best. I’m partial to puckery-sour green apples, but I’m also happy with old-fashioned sweet yellow transparents. Avoid apples that are mealy or ruined by commercial success. Cook them slowly to coax out their natural juices.
These apples cry out for hot biscuits [see below].
Makes 4 to 6 servings
6 small firm apples
3 tablespoons bacon drippings or butter
2 to 6 tablespoons sugar
1. Peel the apples only if they are blemished. Cut the apples into quarters, remove the cores, and cut each wedge into 3 or 4 slices.
2. Heat the fat in a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat. Add the apples and stir to coat. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring once or twice, until the apples begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Taste a slice and add sugar as needed. Stir gently to coat the apples and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the juices thicken into syrup, 5 to 8 minutes more. The outsides of the apples should be warm and sticky, but the insides should remain a little firm. Serve warm.
Miracle Drop Biscuits
I call these miracle biscuits because it is a miracle that anybody can make a decent biscuit with only three ingredients. These drop biscuits are billowy and unruly, so they aren’t ideal for splitting and filling, but they are wonderful eating out of hand, for gravy, or for simple soppin’. This recipe requires self-rising flour, so do not substitute all-purpose flour mixed with added leavening.
Makes 6 biscuits
2 cups soft southern wheat self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups well-chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. Place the flour in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the cream into the well and stir with a fork to make soft, slightly wet dough. If necessary, finish bringing the dough together with a rubber spatula, but handle the dough as little as possible.
3. Drop the dough into 6 equal lumps on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with the melted butter. Bake until the tops are golden, about 12 minutes.
4. Serve hot, although they’re not bad at room temperature, even for the next day or two. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Variation: One of the charms of these biscuits is that they do not have to be rolled and cut–but they can be. For biscuits that look a little neater, use lightly floured hands to shape individual biscuits by hand. You can also pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick slab on a lightly floured surface and cut out biscuits with a lightly floured knife, pizza cutter, or biscuit cutter. Use plain flour for shaping and rolling, never self-rising, and brush away any excess from the biscuits before baking.
Sheri Castle is a food writer and cooking instructor based in Chapel Hill, N.C. Visit the author’s website here. Become a fan of her book on Facebook here, or follow the author on Twitter @shericastle.
Recipes from The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes by Sheri Castle. Copyright © 2011 by Sheri Castle.