These pies fit in the palm of your hand and pack a large punch of flavor. Starting with a simple pie dough, the single-serve pockets of joy are fried instead of baked. The filling is a savory combination of slow-cooked garlic with ricotta and Parmesan, but you could also create your own unique combination of flavors.
For the pie dough: Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter cubes and yogurt and pulse until pea-sized bits of butter remain. Add the vodka to the food processor and pulse until the dough pulls together.
Remove the dough from the machine and form into 2 disks. Do not over knead, just barely bring the dough together. Flatten each disk and wrap tightly with plastic to rest and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour minimum.
For the confit garlic: Put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan and cover with the olive oil and canola oil. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to very low (the oil should maintain a temperature of 225 degrees F) and cook until the garlic is super soft and light golden brown, about 45 minutes. You can test the garlic for doneness by poking the center of a clove with a skewer or paring knife. Remove from the heat and let the oil cool to room temperature before using the garlic.
For the pies: Drain the garlic and put the cloves in a medium bowl. (Reserve the garlic oil for another use.) Add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, pepper flakes and salt and mix thoroughly, lightly mashing the garlic.
Put the canola oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot, making sure it is deep enough to submerge the pies. Heat to 350 degrees F over medium heat.
Beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.
When ready to use, pull 1 disk from refrigerator. Lightly flour the counter. Roll out the pie dough into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Using a small bowl or 4 1/2-inch round cutter, cut 4 circles from the rolled dough.
Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the other disk of pie dough so you have 7 or 8 circles. Take about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling and place in the center of each circle, leaving about a 1/2-inch border on all sides.
Use a pastry brush or your finger to lightly smear the egg wash on the edge of the pie dough. This will act as a glue for your pie and keep it from opening during frying. Fold over one side of the dough pressing the edges together to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges and ensure that they are sealed.
Place the formed hand pies on a parchment-lined sheet tray and chill for 20 minutes before frying.
Fry in the hot oil for 5 minutes, then flip and fry on the second side until golden brown all over, another 5 minutes. Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon or spider to a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with flaky salt and crushed fennel seeds.
The pie dough can be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. You can also make the garlic confit in advance. This can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks.