Today starts my countdown of the top 5 meals prepared during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. There were many events and activities that we watched go by the wayside during this year. One of those was the good ol' North Carolina State Fair. Rides, games, oversized pumpkins, prize-winning cows, and of course, crazy amounts of food. While I personally could care less about those first four, missing out on the massive variety of unique eats was devastating for my entire family.
So we decided to bring the fair to our house (or at least the food from the fair). And it was so good, it made it to #5 in this countdown.
First on the menu was a classic Philly cheesesteak on a homemade soft hoagie roll. I seasoned some thinly sliced ribeye I got at Wegmans with my He Can Cook original spice rub and quickly seared it up in a cast iron skillet, using the side of a metal spatula to chop it as it cooked. Then I topped it off with some provolone slices in the final moments to get it all melty. I cooked down some thinly sliced onions and layered that on top of the cheese and stuffed the hoagie roll.
And what would fair food be without the fries. Alongside my cheesesteak I severed up some thick cut russet potato fries. So delicious and so easy. I just sliced up my potatoes, and soaked them in cold water for an hour to get rid of much of the starch, then drained and dried them really well. I fried the potatoes in 325 degree oil for about 6-8 minutes to get them mostly cooked. Then, when it was almost time to eat, I cranked up the oil to 375 degrees and fried them a second time until they got golden brown and crispy. I hit them with a little salt right out of the deep frier and they were good to go!
Another fair staple are corn dogs, so of course, it made the menu! I'll admit, these were not homemade, but Trader Joe's makes a really good Turkey Corn Dog we just happened to have in the freezer, so into the deep fryer they went. A little squirt of yellow mustard and a side of the fries and it was really starting to feel like we were at the fair, bloated and a little sick to our stomachs, but satisfied nonetheless.
While the oil was hot, I figured what the heck, let's do something a little unique to the fair. Fried spinach! My wife and I used to eat this tasty treat routinely at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants when we lived in Tucson, Arizona. A quick 15-30 second fry followed by a hit of salt and you have a delicious, crunchy and almost healthy treat.
Feeling stuffed to the gills, we called it a night, but of course, no fair outing would be complete without indulging in some deep-fried goodies for dessert. So we left the oil out and extended our trip to this home-based state fair the next night with two staples.
First up we devoured classic funnel cakes, topped with powdered sugar and melted chocolate. Here's the recipe I followed. We could have stopped there, but there was a decent amount of batter left over, so into the pantry I went and pulled out the ever-present package of Oreos. A quick dip and into the deep fryer until golden brown and oozing with creamy deliciousness.
To be honest, I'm not sure how those deep fried ores aren't #1 on my entire list, but that must mean I have some amazing food ahead of it. Tune in next week to see what made #4 on my Top 5 meals of 2020 list!