Fair Food: Gyros, Corndogs and Doughboys from Fia’s Kitchen

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Windsor, home of the Windsor Fair. The first week of school and the last week of August always seemed to coincide with the fair, which was also the biggest social event of the year. As young adults, we would pretend to be under 16 for as long as the gatekeepers would let us, so we could get in for free and spend hours walking around the midway, running into everyone we’d just seen at school that day.

What little spending money I was able to beg from my parents usually turned into kitsch — a random assortment of cheap jewelry and other assorted things I didn’t need, like the sticks of incense I wasn’t supposed to burn in my room but did anyway — but there was always an unwritten rule: You can’t go to the fair and not get a dough boy. The plate-sized rounds of thick, crispy dough topped with butter, syrup, cinnamon and powdered sugar were always best eaten at the end of the night, as the air grew crisp and the sky turned orange, pink, and then purple. If you ate it too early, you risked running into your peers while wearing the toppings on your shirt, anyway.

As I’ve grown older, and experienced other fairs, I’ve branched out in my concession experiences, but there are some things that are just quintessentially autumn fair food to me. Corndogs, for one, are not a food I would seek out at my grocery store, but in the context of a street festival or a state fair, it seems like a perfectly reasonable food choice. Then there are the startlingly international choices — I’ve learned to stay away from fair Thai, for example, but occasionally you find someone hawking a really impressive gyro. (My advice: avoid the gyro stand at the Rockland Lobster Festival — which probably should have been a given; who goes to a lobster festival and eats Greek food? Apparently this girl — at all costs. It is blander than bland, and the whole thing just tastes like pita and tzatziki. On the other hand, the St. George Greek Orthodox church group selling gyros at the Bangor Folk Festival this year knew what they were doing.)

However, thrift is the curse of my people (have you ever heard the one about the two Scotsmen who invented copper wire while fighting over a penny? My dad told me that one) and I can’t quite bring myself to indulge in these tasty seasonal treats as frequently as I seem inclined to drag Ian out to fairs and festivals. This year, we racked up one corn dog each at the Bangor State Fair, one shared doughboy at same, and one-and-a-half gyros each — we split a bland Lobster Festival gyro, but thankfully had the foresight to order one each from the St. George stand at the Folk Festival. Having not had my fill of any of these things, I decided to recreate them in my kitchen.

Spicy Corndogs

  • 8 wooden skewers, soaked in water
  • 8 all-beef franks
  • 1 c. cornmeal or masa
  • 1 c. self-rising flour
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. each cayenne powder, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-2 small chile peppers, seeded and minced
  • cornstarch (to coat franks)
  • oil to fry (or use deep fryer)

Heat oil to 350°F. Combine all batter ingredients (except franks, fry oil and cornstarch in a tall, narrow container for ease of coating. Slide each frank onto a skewer, dust evenly with cornstarch and dip into batter. Drop gently into hot oil, turning until coating turns a deep golden brown. (If your oil is deep enough, or your franks are short enough, you can simply dip the franks into the oil with the skewer.) Remove from oil and transfer to paper towels or brown paper bag to drain. Serve with ketchup and mustard.

Fried Dough (Doughboy)

  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 6 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. yeast

Add all ingredients to a bread maker and set on the dough cycle. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead gently and divide into four equal pieces. Heat at least 3 inches of oil in a large frying pan or deep fryer to 375°F while your dough rests. Lower the dough gently into the oil, one piece at a time.  When it reaches a light golden brown on one side, turn it over and cook the other side. Transfer to a paper towel or brown paper bag to drain and serve with your choice of toppings. We like the traditional butter, syrup, cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar.

Lamb Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce

  • pita bread
  • chopped lettuce and tomatoes
  • thinly sliced red onion

For the meat:

  • 1 butterflied lamb leg
  • 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (garlic, oregano, mint and rosemary)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut butterflied leg roast to stretch out on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Smear liberally with chopped herbs, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast approximately 30 minutes and slice very thinly.

For the tzatziki sauce:

  • 1 large cucumber, seeded
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 handful each fresh dill and mint
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Spoon generously over assembled gyro — pita, topped with thinly sliced lamb and fresh lettuce, tomato and onion.

For more recipes from my kitchen to yours, please visit http://forkable.net.

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Fia Fortune

About Fia Fortune

Fia Fortune is a home cook who enjoys gardening, creating recipes for her two blogs, cooking for herself and her boyfriend, and trying to keep up with their blended family of four cats.