Grab some Pepto Bismol: It’s State Fair season, baby!
There are 40 new dishes at the NC State Fair this year—most of which look like they came straight out of a Chopped episode—so be sure to save some room for new traditions in between your Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers and grist mill hushpuppies.
The fair runs from October 13 to 23. Here are five of our picks for the most innovative new menu items.
1. Thanksgiving Stuffed Turkey Leg
Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ
A twist on a state fair classic, this dish is best described as a Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich turned inside-out, with a hollowed-out smoked turkey leg—instead of the typical stale bread roll—acting as a vehicle for stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce.
I really like this idea; putting stuffing between slices of bread has always seemed superfluous, and turkey is such dry meat that it makes more sense as a husk than a filling. Optional additional fillings include candied yams, collards, and mac ‘n cheese.
2. Rattlesnake Corn Dog
Rattlesnake meat is exceedingly bland—in the Southwest, it’s often called “desert whitefish”—so the quality of this serpent-on-a-stick will be governed by its seasoning. If the spice is right, this dish could be a menu highlight; if it lacks flavor, it will still come with the bonus of making you feel like Bear Grylls without having to drink your own pee.
3. Pepsi-Glazed Mini Donuts
Despite the fact that our governor self-identifies as a “Diet Coke sommelier,” North Carolina remains a Pepsi stronghold. (If you’ve worked at a North Carolina restaurant that doesn’t serve Pepsi, you know this better than anyone.) With a Pepsi-infused glaze and a crunchy peanut topping, these donuts are a spectacular showcase of our state’s food and drink culture.
Roasted corn is another state fair classic, and this dish—de-cobbed Mexican street corn with crema, Cotija cheese, hot sauce, and a squeeze of lime, served in a bag of crushed Doritos—offers an enticing enhancement. It’s the best thing to happen to North Carolina Dorito lovers since 2006, when a beached cargo container spilled thousands of bags of Doritos onto the shores of Hatteras Island.
5. Deep Fried Country Ham with Peach Bourbon Jam
In August, the News & Observer reported the sad news that the state fair’s venerated country ham biscuit booth, operated by two Cary churches for more than a century, will not be returning to the fair this year. To soften the blow, head to the Ragin’ Cajun booth for a new iteration of the beloved staple: deep-fried slices of local country ham served with a sweet-and-smoky peach bourbon jam.
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