Place butter and lard in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Place flour, salt, and the 1 teaspoon sugar on a large cutting board. Mix them with your fingers to blend. Place cold butter and lard on flour mixture. Use a pastry scraper or large kitchen knife to roughly cut butter and lard into the flour mixture. (Some butter and lard will be finely cut in, and some will be in 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces.)
Working quickly, gather the flour mixture in a mound. Use your fingers to shape a lengthwise trench through center. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the ice water along the length of the trench. With upturned fingers toss and fluff together flour mixture and water. Repeat to reshape, sprinkle ice water, and toss and fluff. After incorporating 8 tablespoons of ice water, dough should begin to clump. If necessary, repeat to add more water.
Gather rough dough with a pastry scraper. Working quickly, use the heel of your hand to smear (push away) egg-size pieces of dough, one at a time. Regather dough and repeat process.
Gather dough in mound. Wrap in a double-thickness of plastic wrap. Press with palms of hands to flatten. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
On a lightly floured surface roll chilled dough about 1/2 inch thick. Brush excess flour from surface of dough. Fold dough in thirds, brushing flour off the underside of dough as it is folded over. Lightly press layers together with a rolling pin. Wrap dough in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
On lightly floured surface, roll out cold dough to an even 1/8-inch thickness. With 3-inch round cutter, cut 24 circles, rerolling dough as needed. (If dough becomes warm, transfer to baking sheet and refrigerate about 5 minutes.)
Spoon a generous teaspoonful of filling on center of each circle. Lightly moisten dough edges. Fold in half, pinching edges to seal. Refrigerate sealed pies until ready to fry.
Fill a very deep 10-inch cast-iron skillet half full with oil. Heat over medium heat 365 degrees F. Fry pies, a few at a time, about 3 minutes, until golden brown, turning as needed to cook evenly. Drain on cooling racks. Cool slightly; roll in sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 24 pies.
Sweet Potato filling
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. On foil-lined baking sheet bake sweet potatoes for 1-1/2 hours or until very soft. Meanwhile, remove stems and half dried figs. Place in small saucepan; barely cover with water. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, about 15 minutes until softened. Cool slightly, drain, and finely chop. Stir in honey; set aside. Remove potatoes from oven and cool slightly. Peel potatoes. In a large bowl mash potato flesh until smooth. Mix in unsalted butter, brown sugar, kosher salt, and nutmeg. Stir figs into sweet potato mixture. Cool completely before filling pies.