Originally published in quality newspapers on August 12, 2010
Back when I was a younger there were two primary reasons I went to the fair: corndogs and girls. In my earliest memories the former was atop of that list. The corndog had a lot going for it. Like popsicles and lollipops it was served on a stick. Anything on a stick was a hit in my book. Second it was fried and who can resist the crispy deliciousness of cooking anything in hot oil? Lastly, it was a food that could be dipped. I was ketchup AND mustard man, creating a swirling Jackson Pollock-like masterpiece with every bite.
Somewhere along the line girls became more important than corndogs and the fair was a great place to find gaggles of them. I came of age during the “Daisy Dukes” era of female summer attire which made those hot and steamy summer nights just a little more hot and steamy for this particular adolescent male.
It’s state fair season in my neck of the woods, as well as in many other states, and as a 45 year old man I’ve found that I’ve outgrown both corndogs and women who can pull off the Daisy Dukes. I usually end up hitting the state fair a couple of times and those deep-fried, cornbread-covered hotdogs on a stick are no temptation at all. I head, instead, to the area of the fairgrounds where the agricultural producers show off their products. Ribeye steak sandwiches from the beef producers and chops from the pork folks is where I choose to spend my cash.
It seems, however, that corndogs are not completely out of my life. My two sons have, apparently, inherited my early love of the corndog and it’s their fair food of choice. I’m pretty particular about what my kids eat but usually cave in for the once-a-year state fair corndog experience.
This week I was thinking about post-fair life and wondering if I could create a healthier alternative to give them a corndog fix during the other 51 weeks of the year. I set out to make a corndog casserole that avoided the deep fryer. Although certainly not health food, I used lean turkey hotdogs and served it with fresh fruit and felt pretty good about feeding it my kids. They enjoyed it but were disappointed that no sticks were involved.
At ages nine and five I know I only have a few more summers before girls will surpass corndogs as the primary reason my boys want to go to the fair, in the meantime I’m going to enjoy this less complicated time when thoughts of corndogs rather than Daisy Dukes occupy their brains.
- 1 package (8) hotdogs, sliced is 1/3 inch slices
- 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
- 1 (8-ounce) package Jiffy corn muffin mix
- 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is warming up, heat a nonstick sauté pan to high heat and brown the hotdog slices until they begin to brown then remove from heat. In a large bowl, stir together both cans of corn, Jiffy, sour cream, and melted butter, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Spray a 9 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray and then add the hotdogs then pour the corn mixture on top. Bang the pan gently on the counter top to help the corn mixture settle then smooth over with a spatula. Bake casserole for 60 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. Let stand for about ten minutes before serving. This recipe serves four to five and warms back up well.