The State Fair may be gone, but the smells of the delicious “Fair” food linger in my mind. The Mississippi State Fair signals the start of another fall season. It almost always comes with a much needed cool front for part of the week. I always go for the pig races, the petting zoo and the food. Don’t get me wrong, I also love the rides, and I am a “wristband kind of girl” so I can ride all the rides for one price. The games are fun but we have never really won anything except one fish and I think he was dead before we got home. No, for me, the best reason to go to the fair is for the food!
If you missed the fair this year or just miss the food, here are a few of my favorites that you can try at home. Good luck and until next year, happy frying.
State Fair Buttermilk Biscuits
The biscuit booth is one of my favorite stops at the fair. First, it is free and who does not LOVE a hot, homemade biscuit with warm syrup. These are the BEST biscuits in the world. Last year, I got to go with a friend who was invited to pass out biscuits and then judge the “Pretty Cow contest.” I had a front row seat to observe the volunteers making hundreds of biscuits in the matter of a few hours.
Brian Perry at the Department of Agriculture and Commerce was gracious enough to share the recipe and a brief history of the biscuit booth.
The biscuit booth at the fair was started in the early 1970s after long time Agricultural Commissioner, Jim Buck Ross, visited the Missouri State Fair and saw an exhibit on their midway about grain and syrup making. He brought the idea back to Mississippi to teach children about agriculture and commerce in our state. He realized that “many Mississippi children had never seen mules, and they’ve never seen syrup being made. Since that time, the biscuit booth has been staffed with hundreds of MDAC volunteers kneading, rolling, mixing, and serving an estimated 100,000 biscuits during the 12 days of the fair.
4 cups self-rising flour
2 cups cold buttermilk
3/4 cup shortening
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a large baking dish or cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray.
In a large bowl, add flour. Dig a well in the center and add the shortening. Using your hands, a fork, or a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening into the flour until crumbly. Make another well in the center of the flour and add buttermilk and stir until a soft ball forms.
Lightly flour a flat surface, put soft ball of dough on floured surface and using your hands, flatten to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 2-inch tin can or biscuit cutter that has been thoroughly floured, punch out biscuits. Do not twist the can or cutter. Doing so, seals the edges and limits the rise of the biscuits in the oven. Cut out round biscuits and place on the baking sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with warm Mississippi made cane syrup.
Honey Battered Corndogs
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
12 wooden skewers
Oil for frying
You can also use the same recipe to make mini corn dogs using cocktail weenies.
Mix all ingredients except hotdogs and skewers.
Heat about two quarts of oil in a deep Dutch oven or use a deep fryer. Carefully thread one hotdog onto each skewer until it is secure. It does not need to go all the way through.
When oil is hot, carefully dip hotdogs in the batter and gently remove from batter. Carefully, put them in the hot oil using skewer to turn if needed. The batter should puff up and turn brown. Cook for about three to four minutes until the batter turns golden brown. Remove to a rack and serve with mustard.
Beer Battered Chicken on a Stick
You can certainly use the exact same batter that you did for the corn dogs but this is a slightly different recipe using flour and beer.
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion quartered and separated into small pieces
20 to 30 hamburger dill pickle slices
1 1/2 cup flour, separated
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cold beer
When ready to cook, heat oil in a Dutch oven or in a deep fryer.
To assemble the chicken on a stick: thread one-inch cubes of chicken alternating with a piece of onion and a pickle on several wooden skewers until all pieces are used.
Stir together 1 cup flour and baking powder. Mix in the eggs and the beer to form batter.
On a separate plate, dust chicken skewers with 1/2 cup flour and the dip in remaining batter. Put in the hot oil and fry a few at a time turning until the coating is golden brown on both sides, about three minutes each side. Remove and keep warm until ready to serve.
Salt Water Taffy
I can remember when we were younger, my sister and I would try to make taffy. Occasionally it would work and sometimes it would just be a big mess, but her love of taffy has never faded. She still goes to fair every year and leaves with several boxes of salt water taffy.
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup white corn syrup
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
In a large heavy duty sauce pan, mix together sugar and cornstarch. Stir in corn syrup, water, sugar, and butter. Place over medium heat and stir until all the sugar dissolves.
Cover pot and bring to a boil for two to three minutes. Uncover and attach a candy thermometer in the pan and cook the mixture, stirring frequently until it comes to 266°F.
Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir gently and pour into a greased pan to cool slightly. When taffy is cool enough to handle, grease your hands and begin to pull and twist the taffy until it is light and semi-gloss. Pull into a rope several times and twist. Cut with scissors and wrapped individual parchment paper squares.
My mom would always buy us the caramel apple kits when we were kids. We would make candied apples and caramel apples. I think was her way of tricking us into eating fruit.
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
16-20 drops of red food coloring, depending on how red you would like your mixture.
6 small Granny Smith apples (You can use any variety apple that you like but a firm, small apple is the best.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray with nonstick spray. Insert wooden popsicle sticks in the top of each apple and push about halfway through to secure it thoroughly.
In a medium heavy-duty pot, combine sugar, water, corn syrup and food coloring and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture reaches 300 to 310° on the candy thermometer. About 15 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat. Working quickly, coat each apple in the candy mixture and transferred to the prepared baking sheet. Allow to cool before serving. These to be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
This is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches and while I read that occasionally people put a processed cheese, such as cheese whiz or white American slices of cheese. We have always preferred provolone cheese. The onions, peppers, and mushrooms are all optional and you can add what you like.
1 pound flank or ribeye steak, Cut or shredded into very thin slices. Occasionally I have been able to find this already cut at the grocery store but if you have to slice it yourself, it’s much easier to put the steak in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes and then try to slice.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 green bell pepper, cut into small slices
1 cup sliced mushrooms
8 slices of provolone cheese
4 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
In a small bowl mix together spices and then gently sprinkle over steak. Heat one tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium high heat and sauté beef to desired doneness. Remove and keep warm.
Meanwhile heat remaining oil in a separate skillet and sauté onions, green peppers, and mushrooms until tender. Add steak to the vegetables and keep warm.
Preheat oven to broil. Butter hoagie buns and then lay a slice of cheese over each side. Divide steak onto four buns in line with another slice of cheese. Put on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes.
When top is brown, remove from oven, press sandwich together, and cut in half. Serve warm.
My parents gave my kids a funnel cake kit one time as a Christmas present and I still don’t think they’ve gotten over the fact that I threw out the “special funnel” years ago. At the fair, you can see the funnel cakes topped with all different sorts of toppings. I still prefer the original with powdered sugar. It’s almost like a state fair beignet.
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
Combined milk and egg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Gradually add dry to the wet ingredients until a smooth batter forms. Mix in the melted butter. When ready to cook, pour batter into a funnel or a squeeze bottle. Be sure to hold in with your finger so the battery does not come out.
Heat oil in a small deep fryer or skillet with oil about an inch deep. When oil is hot, carefully remove your finger from the funnel and allow a stream of batter to form a circle moving it around constantly to create squiggly spiral shapes. Fry for about two to three minutes until golden brown carefully turning once if necessary. Remove from oil with a large slotted spoon or spider and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
12 lemons, the larger the better
1 cup of sugar
Squeeze the juice of eight of the 12 lemons. Strain the juice for seeds, but make sure the pulp goes into the lemonade. Add sugar to lemon juice and stir until dissolved. Add 1 1/2 quarts of the cold water and check for sweetness.
Remember that it should be on the strong side, as ice will be added. Adjust according to your taste. Slice remaining lemons 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick so they will hold up to the stirring and pouring. Add the sliced lemons and ice to the lemonade, taste and adjust, if necessary, with more sugar or lemons.