Giggles' Campfire Grill owner Tim "Giggles" Weiss, displaying his stand's "Norwegian on a Stick," a smoked salmon delicacy. Star Tribune file photo.
The Minnesota State Fair won’t be destroying Minnesotans’ diets for a good five months, but that doesn’t mean that deep-fried-on-a-stick ideas aren’t in the works.
Chicken-fried bacon, for example. It’s coming to Giggle’s Campfire Grill, according to owner Tim “Giggles” Weiss.
“It’s a heart attack on a stick,” he said with a laugh. Weiss is the guy who introduced fairgoers to elk meatballs, walleye-trout-wild rice cakes and venison-boar bratwurst, selling them from his ever-busy log cabin-style stand.
Weiss picked up the chicken-fried bacon recipe after a sojourn to Sodolak’s Original Country Inn in Snook, Tex., the apparent epicenter of the chicken-fried bacon world. When he first asked to take a peek at the kitchen’s handiwork, he was turned down flat, but no one says “No” to the gregarious Weiss, and within a half-hour he was swapping stories with the inn’s owner and picking up vital trade secrets.
“It’s not like we’re in competition anyway,” said Weiss, who sweetened the deal by offering a weekend trip to the Mall of America to the inn’s owner and his family. Let's see: Nickelodeon Universe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and American Girl in exchange for battered and deep-fried pork products? Done.
Here’s how they do it in Texas: Dip a strip of uncooked bacon into an egg batter, dredge it in seasoned flour, introduce it to a vat of high-temperature grease and voila, you've got a potential fairgrounds classic in the making. A dipping sauce will accompany each serving, but Weiss — who is getting back into the restaurant business with Smalley’s 87 Club, a new sports bar in the old Champps in Butler Square, near Target Field — hasn’t finalized the recipe. He’d better hurry. The fairground’s gates open Aug. 26.
I shot a message to my pal Alison Cook, the restaurant critic of the Houston Chronicle and one of my favorite food wordsmiths, and asked for her opinion of this Texas delicacy. Let's just say she didn't sugar-coat her feelings.
"I'm sorry, but I think that sounds disgusting," she replied. "And you may quote me. It's rare that I truly like a chicken-fried steak, which gets me in trouble here in Houston. But not everything is a candidate for chicken-frying and I would put bacon in that category. Why would you want to muck up and sheath and muffle an ingredient that fries up beautifully on its own, that has great texture on its own. Words fail me."
Disgusting? The Minnesota State Fair? Sounds like a heaven-sent meeting of the taste buds. I guess we'll all find out during the Great Minnesota Get-Together.