Missing Rodeo Food? Welcome to Our Rodeo Test Kitchen

Hot cheeto kolaches and queso-glazed, pho-brined turkey legs.

By Timothy Malcolm March 16, 2021 Published in the Spring 2021 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The 2021 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was initially rescheduled for May, and then ultimately cancelled in February. If you are missing all those deep-fried delicacies, enormous meat masterpieces, and Cheeto-dusted treats as much as we do, here’s the deal—we’ve devised a munchie you can make at home to curb your Rodeo hunger pangs right now, and we think it may even rival the Rodeo’s finest foodstuffs. Happy snacking! 

Deep-Fried Banana Pudding

It’s crispy, sugary, and when that banana flavor hits? A legit banger. Since this banana pudding is really a deep-fried sandwich, we suggest vanilla pudding for dipping. Makes 20.

For the sandwiches:

  • 40 vanilla wafers
  • 1/2 c marshmallow cream
  • 2 bananas

For the batter:

  • 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c whole milk

For the pudding:

  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c 2% milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 7 oz sweetened condensed milk

For frying:

  • 6 c vegetable oil or peanut oil
  • confectioner’s sugar to top

To make the sandwiches, slice bananas in half-inch-deep bites. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of marshmallow cream on the inside of two vanilla wafers, with one banana slice in between. Place on a shallow baking dish, cover with a lid, foil, or adhesive plastic wrap, and freeze for minimum 24 hours.

Next, make the pudding. Combine sugar, flour, and salt into large saucepan, then whisk in the milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture bubbles. Cook for another two minutes, again stirring occasionally, then remove from heat. Whisk eggs in a small bowl and slowly pour some of the mixture into the eggs, whisking vigorously. Once fully incorporated, pour egg and milk into saucepan and whisk vigorously. Return pan to stove and heat on medium-low until simmering. Reduce heat to low and cook an additional two minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat; it should be thick enough to coat your spoon. Transfer to a large bowl. Add vanilla extract and stir, then let sit in room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in condensed milk and let sit another 20 minutes. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least eight hours.

An hour before you want to eat, make the batter. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat eggs in medium bowl and mix in milk until combined. Pour egg and milk mix into dry bowl and whisk until smooth with no lumps. The batter should be thick.

Pour oil into deep fryer and set to 375 degrees F. If you don’t have a deep fryer, use a heavy Dutch oven and digital thermometer. When the oil is at 375, dip each sandwich in batter to fully coat and drop into oil (use a basket or a long metal spoon). Gently move the sandwiches around in the oil so they don’t stick to anything. Remove when golden brown. Place finished fried banana puddings in a bowl lined with parchment paper. Let sit to cool for five minutes. Dust each with confectioner’s sugar using a mesh sifter.

And Just for fun...

Queso-glazed, pho-brined turkey leg

Give the turkey (a massive 1- to 2-pound leg, of course) a 24-hour brine of water, salt, sugar, fish sauce, ginger, and star anise. Sear it. Glaze with thick queso, roast, finish with another spread of queso, and shower it in chopped Thai chiles and ogo seaweed. Will it be good? Who knows! But it’s very Houston.

Pretzel pie

Hear us out: German Frito pie, jawohl!? Ground smoked sausage and mix with from-scratch mashed potatoes; set aside. Next, pound a small bag of hard pretzels until they’re near crumbs. Open it, add some sausage mash, and top with mustard for flavor—and baby, you’ve got pretzel pie.

Hot-Cheeto kolache

Give Rodeo-grub icon Flamin’ Hot Cheetos the ultimate Texan treatment. Bake homemade kolaches—specifically klobasneks with meat filling—and dust in crushed-up Cheetos. You’ll need a binding agent to glue them on—Honey? Maple syrup? The world is your very sticky oyster (but please, no oyster sauce)!

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