Friday, October 14, 2011

Theme Recipe: American Fair Fat Balls

European Fat Balls:  The Ultimate American Fried Fair Food!

First of all Laugh!!! Fat Balls, really!! That can not be a real fair food!  Oh but it is.  My local county fair had a small stand that was run by an older couple who said they were "Swedish" but their accents were decidedly German.  The things that they sold as "Fat Balls" were actually an over-sized fried doughnut balls that was cooled slightly and filled with whatever filling you liked.  They sold chocolate, vanilla, and cherry.  I had the cherry once, and wished that I had ordered it more; but I was a kid and looked forward to this once a year fall treat to the point where I couldn't keep from ordering the chocolate.  I could never finish it; and it didn't help that the stand was right next to the buildings with all the livestock!!

These are actual fat balls before ordering

One thing that I do know from a native background is that people all over the world have some version of fried dough or bread, Native Americans are just the newest group on this band wagon, with Europeans being some of the oldest.  If any group of Europeans knows how to make a fried yeast doughnuts, it's the Germans and Austrians.  I'll admit that I've never tried to make these at home--ever, so the recipe is to be viewed as suspect.  But I have made a lot of fried dough, especially a "million" different versions of frybread, so I will post this and try it--if it's crap, I'll say so.

Small Batch:

2 cups all purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 packet dry yeast
1/2 cup Warm water and sugar to proof the yeast
More water or milk to make a dough
1/2 cup sugar (optional)
Vegetable oil 

Filling of choice

Mix the flour and salt in bowl, add in the extra 1/2 cup sugar if using.  In a separate bowl, proof the yeast with the warm water and sugar, wait for it to double in size.  Make well in flour and pour in the proofed yeast.  Mix until the mixture is too dry to stir, gradually add more warm water or warm milk to the flour to make a dough that can be kneaded.  Knead on floured board for a couple of minutes (using extra flour to keep from sticking).  Grease a mixing bowl with some vegetable oil, add dough, cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  Punch down, gather up the dough cover and let rise another 30 minutes.  

Heat vegetable oil to deep fry,  break off pieces of dough, roll like big meatballs, and drop in fat, one or two at a time.  Make sure the fat is not too hot, or the dough will burn on outside before cooking on the inside.  Cook until done ( a couple of minutes) and drain.  Keep warm and serve according to diners wishes.

At the fair they served a choice of chocolate pudding filling, vanilla pudding filling and cherry filling, but any kind of jam will do. I am told that in the mid-west these are sometimes just sprinkled with powdered sugar and eaten without filling.

 Below is a photo of the current Fat Ball stand at the fair.  Here's to Tobe Hooper!

I've got to say, for everyone who snickers at these--they sound a hell of a lot better that some of the more recent fried fair "fare"--like Koo-Aid Balls and Fried  Butter!  Never mind the fried coke doughnut holes!!


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  2. As a kid I got them at the St Joe County Grange Fair in Michigan. I love them and swear they are 20 times better than a elephant ear

    1. We just got one at the St. Jo County fair today. We had ours with smoked sausage. It was
      Was wonderful.

  3. Sarasota Fla County fair near 50 years ago filled with Belgium custard... YUMMMM

  4. I got them every year at the Allegan County fair. Haven't been back there in some years, but as a kid, these worth waiting for all year.