Growing up in rural Connecticut, all I thought about was “fair season.” I waited ’til September for it, I saved up my allowance to spend at it, I ate myself silly while I was there–it was above and beyond one of my favorite parts of my childhood.
Making it to fairs has been increasingly hard since I moved to NYC, and as much as I love the city food scene or Smorgasburg, nothing compares to the eats at fairs like The Big E. I won’t be making it to any of my favorites this year (sad) so I jumped at the chance to at least re-create some of my favorite fair foods at home. I’m a pretty traditional gal–I stay far (far far far) away from all the random, trendy fair food…especially anything that entails frying a candy bar, Twinkie or my least favorite, Oreos (I shudder to think about those fair stand workers turning my favorite cookie into fried mush). Instead, I go old-school. My top three faves:
Loaded Baked Potato
This is one of the first stands I head to when I hit the fair grounds. There’s something about the sinful combo of butter, cheese and sour cream that really just makes me drool (sorry, but it’s true).
Stab some fork holes in your potato and pop it in the microwave for five to seven minutes, depending on the size (you’ll know it’s cooked when you can cut it in half and the middle is soft). Add some unsalted butter, then shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream on each side and top with fresh chives. Finish with salt and pepper, then dig in!
I go with sauce and cheese, which I’ve learned a lot of people find strange (you guys have been missing out all your life!). The great thing? One batch can be made with sauce and cheese, and the next with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Best of both worlds!
Fill a deep sauce pan with vegetable oil and heat until it’s 375 degrees (use a candy thermometer, or just guess and see if your dough fries–it should take about 10/15 minutes to heat up on high). Create balls of dough about the size of your fist. Flour a flat surface and the dough, rolling out with a pizza roller until round and a few centimeters thick. Lower one piece gently into the hot oil, making sure you don’t splash yourself.
Allow to fry on one side until brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Flip over using tongs, and fry the other side, draining on a plate covered with paper towels when golden brown. Top with sauce and cheese or powdered sugar and cinnamon. Your call!
Apple Hand Pies
Simply put, nothing screams fall more than any version of apple pie. These are fair-ready because they’re easy to hold…perfect if you want to double fist it (you classy lady, you).
Start with pre-made pie crust, and cut it into circles (I used a knife to cut around the mouth of a soup bowl, and the size worked great!). On the stove, place a sauce pan, and fill it with 4 skinned and chopped apples, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples have gone soft and the mixture has thickened (it should smell amazing, so now is the perfect time to invite over that guy you’ve been wanting to impress).
Let the apple mixture cool. Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray and place the pie circles on it. Top half the circle with the apples, then fold it over itself, crimping the edges with a fork. Coat the top with a light butter wash, then sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon and sugar. Cook at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the pie crust has browned and begins to crack on the top.
Bonus points if you serve these with ice cream. Because let’s be honest, ice cream makes everything better.
Do you ever go to fairs in the fall? I want to know your favorite indulgent fair food!