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Best Bet: Baked turkey leg at Carnival Food Year Round

Michael Donahue, The Commercial Appeal • Nov 28, 2013 at 6:00 PM

(MCT) – If you didn’t get enough bird on Thanksgiving, head to Carnival Food Year Round and grab a turkey leg. One of these with some leftover cranberry sauce and dressing makes a meal for one person.

Make sure you give the folks at the restaurant two hours’ notice. I drove from work to the drive-thru restaurant on Jackson and ordered a turkey leg at the window. Eldrid and Lynette Hill, who co-own the restaurant, probably thought I was pulling their legs. They start baking the turkey legs after they hang up the phone or get off their computer. They don’t just keep them on hand.

I returned the next week after placing my order on the phone. You also can order online. This is strictly a drive-thru restaurant, but Lynette invited me in. Carnival Food Year Round, which sells everything from candy apples to cotton candy to funnel cakes, smelled like the Mid-South Fair. Lynette had just taken three turkey legs out of the oven. One was for me and the others were for their children, Briauna, 11; Katrice, 7; Eldria, 6; and Verisia, 4.

The Hills got the idea for their restaurant while walking around the Mid-South Fair the last day it was in Memphis, Eldrid said. “I knew I was never going to be at Libertyland again,” he said.

The main thing he was going to miss was the food, not the rides, Eldrid said. He thought, “We won’t be able to get this anymore.” This was before the Mid-South Fair moved to Mississippi and Delta Fair made the scene, he said.

Enter Carnival Food Year Round, where you can order just about any traditional fair item. Funnel cakes are their biggest seller, Lynette said. They carry several flavors, including strawberry, chocolate and lemon.

Their turkey legs are popular, too. They’re a lot more tender than the ones I remember getting at the Mid-South Fair when it was in Memphis. Eldrid said those legs were smoked, the meat was tough and had dark spots from cooking too much in one place because someone forgot to turn them.

The Hills slow bake theirs in a conventional oven on an aluminum pan liner that has holes in it. “It’s not sitting it its own grease,” Eldrid said.

Four different seasonings are added midway through the baking. The other seasonings, which Eldrid refers to as “Lynette’s signature seasonings,” are a secret. When the turkey leg is ready, it “falls off the bone,” Lynette said.

I thought they were delicious. They have a combination turkey and ham flavor. I asked Eldrid about that. “We notice it all the time,” he said. “We love it. That’s why it goes good in a salad.”

Regular and turkey corn dogs are among the other items offered. They also carry a “Polish corn dog” made with kielbasa sausage. That one requires two sticks.

They also carry non-fair things, too, including green salads and BLTs. “We try to cater to every crowd and not just one crowd,” Eldrid said.

So, what do the Hills do on Thanksgiving? “We don’t cook,” Lynette said. “We take the kids and eat at the casino. Turkey and dressing. They have a free buffet. We take them swimming in an indoor pool.”

“We allow somebody else to cook for us two days out of the year: Christmas and Thanksgiving,” Eldrid said. “The rest of the time we’re cooking.”

Carnival Food is at 3349 Jackson; 470-257-5077 or carnivalfoods.net.

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