Good Eats

Big Bad Pop-Ups in Oxford

By Vanessa GregoryJanuary 22, 2013

John Currence’s catering kitchen is the place to eat right now in Oxford, Mississippi. With the chef’s fine dining restaurant, City Grocery, closed for renovations, he’s experimenting with high-minded street food and hosting four weeks of "Big Bad Pop-Ups." Week one featured Atlanta’s Eli Kirshtein, of Top Chef fame, who made Israeli favorites like falafel, latkes, and crispy cauliflower; coming weeks will bring guest chefs Kelly English, of Restaurant Iris in Memphis, and Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, who run Memphis’ Andrew Michael Kitchen and Hog & Hominy.

But last week was all Currence. His menu celebrated Americana with influences from the South and the Mexican-American border: classic hamburgers, chicken skin BLTs, and a glorious Sonora dog—a house made hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with pico de gallo, sour cream, grilled peppers and avocado. For dessert, the New Orleans chef wanted a fried apple pie to honor his childhood memories of Hubig’s Pie Company, a Crescent City institution that burned this summer. “They packaged them in wax paper bags and delivered them in cardboard boxes,” Currence recalls. “The delivery truck would show up and they’d have random flavors—always apple, always coconut, and, every once in awhile, banana or chocolate. As a child, it was one of my favorite things.”

If you're near Oxford, be sure to check out the last two weeks of the pop-ups. The dinners are Wednesday-Saturday at Main Event Catering 1005 N. Lamar Blvd.

Here, Currence’s memory of fried pie, created by City Grocery pastry chef Dwayne Ingraham.

Photo by Katie Williamson

Fried Apple Pie

Pie Dough
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
1 cup cold butter, cubed
½ cup cold milk

Sift together dry ingredients. Cut cold butter cubes into dry mixture until it resembles course corn meal. Make a well in the middle and pour milk into it. Mix together by hand until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest at least 30 minutes in fridge.

Apple Filling
2/3 cup sugar
cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
6 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
2 oz. brandy
4 tbsp. butter, room temperature

Sift together dry ingredients. Toss apples with the dry and place in a pot. Cook on stovetop over medium heat until apples soften slightly and the liquid has turned into a thick caramel. Add brandy and cook, stirring constantly, until the alcohol has cooked off—about 5 minutes. Then add soft butter and stir until melted and absorbed. Cool.

Preheat fry oil to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 5-inch-by-5 inch squares. Fold squares of pie dough in half making a crease down the center. Fill each square with 2 tablespoons worth of filling on one side of crease. Fold the other side of dough over filled side and seal with a fork.  Place filled pies back in fridge and let chill for at least 15 minutes. Once fry oil has reached 350 degrees, place prepared pastry in oil, submerging completely.  Fry for about 8 minutes, until pie is golden brown.  Remove from fry oil, cool slightly, and serve warm with ice cream.