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  • Timmy's Mac Attack from the Timmy's BBQ booth at the Three Rivers Festival features macaroni and cheese topped with barbecued baked beans and pulled pork.@cutline: is one of the items being filmed by The Cooking Channel's “Carnival Eats,” this week. (Photos by Ryan DuVall | The Journal Gazette)

  • Melissa Richardson drizzles syrup over her Everything Elephant Ear at her booth in front of the midway. It is one of the items being profiled by “Carnival Eats,” this week.

  • The Cheesy Fried Enchilada Funnel Cake is the latest invention by funnel cake queen Jane Harris.

  • The Miss Piggy's Pork Shop will be one of the booths at the Three Rivers Festival being filmed by The Cooking Channel's "Carnival Eats," this week. Though they are making a bacon-wrapped, barbecued corn on the cob for the show, they do not serve it at any festival, including this one. The owner hopes the show helps push his bottled barbecue sauce, which he sells at his booth and which is sold nationwide in Walmart and Fresh Thyme stores.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 1:00 am

Eats shock and amaze

Cooking Channel profile subjects worthy of a taste

RYAN DUVALL | The Journal Gazette

I guess I should not be surprised at how daunting it was.

I mean, I did see the big pile of fried goodies formed into what looked like the most delicious spaceship ever created sitting there in the window next to the sign.

“The Everything Elephant Ear,” the sign read with a big $20 stamped next to it.

This abomination at the Richardson's Funnel Cake stand in front of the Three Rivers Festival midway – not Junk Food Alley – had everything I dream about.

There was a big, crispy elephant ear the size of a hubcap.

Then there was the thick, lightly fried funnel cake that was still soft and chewy – more like cake than funnel cake – sitting on top.

Then came the skewers. The one driven right through the heart of this decadent treat had a deep-fried, batter-coated Hostess Cupcake and Twinkie on it. Two other skewers held a pair of battered Oreo cookies. The third and final one had two fried marshmallows.

Oh and let's not forget all of the chocolate and caramel sauce and that cherry pie filling-like topping splashed all over it.

Yes, this was something I had never seen before and was obviously something the folks at The Cooking Channel's “Carnival Eats,” had never seen before either. They are in town today and Thursday profiling it along with three other items from Junk Food Alley for a future show. I tried them all … sort of.

Everything Elephant Ear

The Everything Elephant Ear was really good and I could see having it again, but only if I had my entire family of five with me. Well, at least two of them.

The Oreo cookies melted inside the batter and formed what almost seemed like warm brownies inside. The crispy ear was just right, and the marshmallows oozed like I thought they would.

But the key was that funnel cake. Owner Melissa Richardson makes her mix from scratch and takes care when frying it.

“You can't get it too dark or it won't be soft and chewy,” she said as she gently prodded at it in the oil with a big slotted spoon. “People can taste the difference and tell me they come here to get one because I make it this way.”

To be honest, the Twinkie and Cupcake, though tasty, were kind of bit players in this monster. By the time I got to them, I was sort of in a daze from all of the sweet fried goodness.

But it was a daze well worth getting into again.

Cheesy Fried Enchilada Funnel Cake

When it comes to funnel cakes, I should just learn to trust Jane Harris. I doubted I would like the pizza funnel cake last year and was wrong. I didn't see how a pineapple upside-down cake could be made into a funnel cake one year, either, and was wrong.

Yet my first reaction had a bad word in it when TRF Executive Director Jack Hammer told me the Cheesy Fried Enchilada Funnel Cake was this year's most interesting new item. There was just no way I was going to like it. Wrong again.

With 35 years of experience, countless TV appearances making funnel cakes and literally a book of recipe ideas she is constantly tinkering with, Harris knows her stuff.

This cake was made from a cornmeal batter with cumin, chili powder and garlic powder. The Monterrey Jack cheese sauce was rich and wonderful, and the chorizo on top had been cooked in tomato sauce to give it a sweet note. 

If it had some lettuce and sour cream on top, I might go back every day for it, I told Harris.

“Oh, we've got something in the works just like that,” she said.

Sweet D's barbecue sauce

Miss Piggy's Pork Shop will make a bacon-wrapped, barbecued corn on the cob for the TV show. It won't be available for sale to the public, but owner Steve Gresham jumped at the chance to show off his family's Sweet D's barbecue sauce, which is available in some stores nationwide. The sauce is for sale in bottles at his booth this week.

It is a zesty, sweet sauce – there is a big red onion, a garlic clove and a little bee on the label which hints to its flavor combination. It is great on Miss Piggy's thick pork chops and you can have a piece of regular corn on the cob with it.

Mac Attack

When I was told that Timmy's BBQ was going to be profiled by the TV show I was excited since the owners, Tim and Neza Johnson, are from Garrett. They have a restaurant up there and only do about a dozen shows around northeast Indiana each year, so it is a huge break for them.

I would have bet money “Carnival Eats” was profiling their grilled Philippine-style chicken feet, which I fell in love with at last year's festival.

But instead the show will profile the Johnsons' Mac Attack – macaroni and cheese topped with baked beans and pulled pork.

The spiral macaroni picked up a little of the sweet bean broth – Timmy's uses sausage, onions, barbecue sauce and brown sugar along with its four beans (pinto, butter, old fashioned and kidney) to make really tasty baked beans. They are worth ordering on their own if you don't want them over macaroni.

And, yes, the pulled pork is really good, too, with just the right smoky flavor and right amount of sauce.

The only thing I might do differently with the Mac Attack is make it a little cheesier.

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall's past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.