This week marks the beginning of the 2021 Food Truck Friday season. I don’t know if it’s the beautiful weather, my lack of social interaction or the fantastic variety of street food that will be available, but I’m all vaccinated up and extra excited.
If my math skills are correct, this is the event’s fifth year. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed since it first rolled into Carthage’s Central Park.
Food Truck Friday is all grown up, and it shows: Food trucks from all over line the streets around the park; there are picnic tables scattered as far as the eye can see, and there’s live music to enjoy while you eat whatever you finally decide on. Picnic blankets, lawn chairs and kids running amok are all part of the ambiance.
The decision is tough, but sometimes the length of a food truck’s line makes the decision for you. Long lines mean popular food. Or slow service.
Either way, Food Truck Friday is about more than just the food. It’s a community event. It’s about gathering with friends and neighbors. We’ve been cooped up for a long time; this Friday, go for the food, go for the fun but go with patience and a smile for your pandemic comrades. It’s time we had some outdoor, socially distanced, responsible food truck fun.
The name of my food truck game is pasties and street corn. I’ll line up for a chicken tikka masala pasty from Springfield-based truck London Calling, and then I’ll find the street corn. My kid and her buddies will likely find nachos, snow cones, churros and maybe a little face paint on the side. It will be a glorious evening of planned indulgence.
Try these recipes for versions of my favorite Food Truck Friday fare, and I hope to see you there. The event takes place from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.; go before 5 p.m. to avoid lines, or take a buddy and catch up while you wait.
Mexican street corn off the cob
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (about 3-4 cups)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 ounces cotija cheese, freshly grated or crumbled
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 green onion, finely chopped
Handful of freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat, and then add the corn kernels. Spread in an even layer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until exterior is charred/browned, stirring frequently.
Once charred/browned, place into a large bowl and then mix in mayonnaise, cotija, paprika, green onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix to combine, then serve.
1 recipe pie crust
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small leek, finely chopped
1 (1/2-pound) hanger steak, chopped
1 parsnip, finely chopped
1 potato, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme, chopped
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in skillet and add onion and leek; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a bowl combine steak, parsnip, potato, carrot and thyme, and toss to combine. Once onion and leeks are cool, add to mixture and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
Roll out pastry into 1/4-inch-thick sheet. Cut into 4 circles about 5 inches across. If all circles cannot be cut out of initial sheet of pastry, reroll pastry and cut out remaining circles if necessary.
Spoon between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of filling mixture onto one half of pastry circle. Brush edges with beaten egg and fold other half over filling. Seal by pressing gently with a fork or your fingers. Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining pastry and filling (there may be filling left over). Brush all pasties with beaten egg.
Place in oven; when pastry begins to brown, turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve with strong ale.