The most sinful delight I had when I was at the fair was traditional Italian fried dough. Yum, yum, yum. Wikipedia claims that they're also called elephant ears, whale tails, pizza frita, frying saucers, doughboys and even beavertails (in Canada). The only one of these that I've ever heard of is "pizza frita", and believe me, it's the furthest thing from fried dough that there is. Pizza frita are batter-dipped and fried pizza slices. Yup. And they're quite popular in Scotland no less!
When I venture out of New England, I am quite amazed that this treat, a staple of all New England county and state fairs, is virtually non-existent. When I lived in Florida, the closest thing to fried dough you could find at the county fairs were churros, although I guess they both are distant cousins.
Basically, what New Englanders call "fried dough" is nothing more than deep fried pizza dough. When deep-fried, the dough puffs up quite beautifully and is very light and airy. It is always served with a choice of pizza sauce and parmesan or powdered sugar. It is NEVER served with any other kind of sauce or topping, nor is it ever stuffed with anything. I pride myself on being a fried dough purist. Nuff said.
So now that the Big E, most county fairs and the San Gennaro's Festival in NYC are over with, I'll just have to wait until next year for more true Italian fried dough. For those of you who can't wait, my recipe is below!
Authentic Italian Fried Dough
1 lb pizza dough, homemade or store bought
Oil for deep fryingPizza sauce and parmesan cheese or confectioner's sugar for toppings
In a deep fryer or heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the oil to 375 degrees. If using a pan, make sure you have at least 4" of oil so that the dough can swim freely.
Divide your dough into 4 or more pieces, depending on the desired size of the finished product. On a lightly floured surface, press the dough into a flat round (usually approx. 6" wide). Drop the dough discs into the hot oil. The dough will rise to the surface as it cooks. Once it rises, let it continue to cook for a few minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown on both sides.
Remove from hot oil and let drain. Top with hot pizza sauce and parmesan cheese or a sprinkling of confectioner's sugar.