Forget about holiday cookies. Hand-fry this PB&J pie in place of Chef Rob Connoley
As an undergraduate student at Loyola University in New Orleans, Chef Rob Connoley vividly remembers obsessing over the locals’ favorite Hubig’s pies. Hand pies filled with fried fruit were once available at “just about any gas station.”
âBeing from Saint-Louis, which is more of the northern end of the south, fried pies weren’t really part of my upbringing,â says Connoley. “But in New Orleans they were everywhere and I really got hooked on them, especially the lemon custard and some berries.”
Sadly, much to the sadness of the residents of Nola, a fire shut down Hubig’s Pies almost a decade ago. So when Connoley opened his Bulrush restaurant in St. Louis in early 2019, he decided to pay homage to this beloved fried snack by offering a variety of seasonal hand pies.
One of the biggest hits was the raisin pie, which he added to the menu about a year and a half ago. âWe focus on early 19th century Ozark foods, but give them an extremely contemporary twist,â he says. While preparing dishes for the restaurant, he began to discover grape pie recipes during his research. He knew the late summer fruit, which has a long history in the region (Missouri was once a leading wine region in the United States), was a perfect ingredient for fried pie.
Soon a version of the hand-held dessert was born, which required a filling of black seedless grapes with a bit of fortified Portuguese wine from Madeira. Although it proved popular with guests, Connoley didn’t stop tinkering with the recipe. Recently, he decided to add a dollop of creamy peanut butter, effectively turning the dessert into a decadent take on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
âI thought how fun it would be to take this classic raisin pie and brush it over with a little peanut butter,â he says. “I just think it’s a classic and heartwarming combination.”
The best part? These fried PB&J pies are incredibly easy to make at home. Read on for Connoley’s recipe and tips on making this delicious treat.
Even though this pie calls for a homemade crust, don’t be intimidated. Connoley’s beginner-friendly crust recipe uses only flour, salt, butter and water. Use your fingers to mix all the ingredients.
âI would love to see people go back to making their own pie crust,â says Connoley.
Connoley’s Fried PB&J Handmade Pie may be based on a childhood classic, but the inclusion of Madeira gives it a decidedly grown-up flavor. The acidity of the fortified wine, he says, balances the deep earthy taste of the black seedless grapes for the garnish.
The alcohol will die out quickly, leaving only the characteristic tang of Madeira. But if you prefer, omit the wine altogether. Either way, just add a dollop of creamy peanut butter to the pie crust circle (and even a dollop of marshmallow fluff to bring it to the “next level”) before topping it with the raisin mixture and sautÃ©ing it. seal.
Once your pies are assembled, you have several options: fry them right away or toss them in the freezer for future enjoyment.
âYou can easily batch them, freeze them, and then have them whenever you want,â he says. Just let them warm up for about half an hour before frying. Also make sure the pies are well sealed. If the paste doesn’t stick, dab it with water and press it down with your fingers. Then press the edge again with a fork – this strengthens the seal, so that the gooey filling does not escape.
It only takes about three minutes to fry each pie. Then they are covered with a simple icing of powdered sugar, butter and a touch of Madeira. âI wanted to strengthen the flavor of Madeira,â says Connoley.
Fried PB&J tart with Madeira grapes
For the dough:
- 2 cups minus 3 tablespoons bread flour
- .5 teaspoon of salt
- 2 sticks, minus 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted, chilled and cubed
- 0.25 cup ice water (more if needed)
For the filling:
- 2 cups of black seedless grapes
- 0.25 cup of sugar
- .5 teaspoon of salt
- .25 cup of Madeira wine
- 0.5 teaspoon of cornstarch
- Creamy peanut butter
For the icing:
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon of melted butter
- 2 tablespoons of Madeira wine
For the dough:
- Whisk flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter cubes and toss to coat. Coat each cube of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Continue to spread the butter in the flour until no large pieces of butter remain. Transfer to the freezer for 30 minutes.
- On speed 2 of your stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, begin mixing the dry ingredients. Slowly pour cold water into the bowl and mix until the dough begins to clump together. Be patient and don’t rush this step. Depending on your flour, you may need additional water for it to come together. The goal is not to create a homogeneous and smooth dough, but rather a coarse dough with butter chips all over it.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and form a circle 1 inch high. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and overnight.
- On a generously floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Punch 6-inch circles, cover with parchment paper or waxed paper, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 450 ÂºF / 232 ÂºC.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the raisins, sugar and salt until the raisins are coated with granules. Place in a loaf pan and add the Madeira. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the grapes begin to soften and release their juice. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Drain the liquids in a small saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch into the liquid and heat over medium-low heat until the liquid thickens, whisking constantly. Return the thickened liquid to the softened raisins and toss to coat.
For assembly and frying:
- Heat the cooking oil in a large Dutch oven to 325 ÂºF / 162 ÂºC.
- Place a disc of dough on the counter and let it become soft but not soft. Dip your finger in the water and run it around the edge of the circle of dough. Spread 1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter in the center of the dough disc. Add a small spoonful of raisin filling in the center and fold the dough in half. Using your fingertips, press the joint of the dough together, making sure not to miss any gaps. Finally, take a fork and crimp the seam you just pressed.
- Fry in oil for 3 minutes or until golden, turning as needed to cook all sides of the pie.
- Transfer to a cooling rack set on a baking sheet.
For the icing:
In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, melted butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Madeira. Mix until there are no more lumps. Pour the icing over the pies. Let them cool. Enjoy.