Corn dogs, turkey legs, and funnel cakes may be the first things that come to mind when thinking of carnival food, but at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a bevy of much more interesting carnival eats awaits exploration.
With just five days left to conquer the Rodeo’s broad culinary landscape, here are five cant-miss bites to tackle before the carnival’s finale.
On A Stick
Rodeo season isn’t complete without a taste of something on a stick. The options are endless — sausage, pie, pizza, ribs — you name it, it probably comes on a stick. This year, I experienced a less traditional rendition at Polonia Restaurant‘s Rodeo outpost. The Polish food stand is stabbing a stick into its traditional Polish dumplings for you guessed it: pierogi on a stick.
Potato and cheese, kraut and mushroom, and meat pierogi options are all available, but if dumplings aren’t your thing, Polonia’s also offering a Polish-style fried bacon on a stick.
A Little Bit of Chicken Fried
After a gluttonous Rodeo food tour, the last thing I wanted to try was more fried food, but how can one pass up something called chicken fried bacon? Yoakum Packing is serving up the succulent morsels, which are extra crispy on the outside and salty on the inside.
If you’re lucky enough to snag an order, pair the chicken-fried bites with Yoakum’s new fried brisket balls.
Pecan Pie 2.0
I’ll be honest. I rarely touch pecan pie. In fact, I don’t even eat my grandmother’s (who is an amazing cook from Louisiana) pecan pie. From what I’ve heard, it’s the bee’s knees.
So when I spotted deep fried pecan pie on the Stills Funnel Cakes menu, I glanced right over it and opted for the deep fried bacon dessert instead. (Fried bacon topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar sounds like a direct way to this girl’s heart.) But quickly thereafter, the cashier informed me that the pecan pie was the true star, so I caved and ordered a slice.
She was right. Gooey on the inside, deep fried on the outside, what’s not to love? Now to find my grandmother’s beloved pie recipe.
This Time, the Turkey Wins
Whenever there’s a turkey take on an already established dish, the turkey almost always results in a worse rendition than the original. Case in point: turkey bacon. So you can imagine my surprise when I opted for seconds of New Braunfels Smokehouse‘s turkey jerky.
The smokehouse has been serving the Houston Rodeo since 1972, and it shows, especially with this jerky. The smoky flavor and peppery exterior warrant a try.
Cowboy Kettle Corn‘s Nitro Pop earned its place as the unofficial crowd favorite during the Houston Rodeo’s annual Gold Buckle Foodie Awards. The sweet treat is basically just flavored popcorn doused in liquid nitrogen, but the entertainment factor alone grants it a spot on this list.