It’s the very best time of the year, if you’re a cooking oil salesman or a fan of Big Tex, deep-fried food and the State Fair. In other words, if you’re a Texan.
That’s right, we now know the eight finalists (out of 54 entires) for this year’s State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Awards, which in the past has given us such culinary joys as deep-fried Coke, fried bubblegum, and deep-fried s’mores.
Judging will take place on Labor Day, with the State Fair itself opening September 28. Last year’s winners were, for Most Creative, the aforementioned bubblegum (which actually contained no bubblegum, just marshmallow), and for Best Taste, buffalo chicken in a flapjack (on a stick, natch).
Here’s our breakdown of the current finalists.
PUT A SLICE OF BACON ON IT:
First up, and pictured above, the Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll, “a deliciously fresh cinnamon roll dipped in a special sweet pancake batter, rolled in crispy fried bacon crumbles, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It’s a main course and a dessert all in one.”
Does adding bacon to anything even count as inspiration anymore? That said, we’d totally eat this, but we are unsure that the frying/pancake batter will improve the basic concept.
REQUIRES TOO MANY UTENSILS:
The Deep-Fried Divine Chocolate Tres Leches Cake is “slice of chocolate tres leches cake soaked in buttermilk batter, and fried to perfection. A light sprinkle of cinnamon, topped with whipped cream, fresh strawberry slices and peaches are drizzled with a yummy syrup.”
Doesn’t the buttermilk make it cuatro leches?
TRUST, BUT VERIFY
Deep Fried Jambalaya, “a State Fair spin is given to the Cajun classic. This “from scratch” jambalaya is created using shrimp, cajun sausage and seasonings, then coated in lightly seasoned flour and fried to a golden perfection. This deep-fried Southern delectable will be served with a side of “made in house” spicy ranch sauce.”
This one is from four-time winner Abel Gonzalez Jr., the subject of Katy Vine’s 2010 Texas Monthly feature, “I Believe I Can Fry.” We give the man who invented deep-fried Coke and deep-fried butter the benefit of the doubt.
TOO BIG EVEN FOR TEXAS:
A Deep Fried Mac-N-Cheese Slider: “This three-cheese mac is baked until golden brown, battered in bread crumbs, deep-fried until crisp on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. Placed on a slider bun with a griddled beef patty, this southern-style invention almost calls for a rocking chair and a front porch.”
This is the one inspiring all the Lipitor and “hang on to your arteries” cliches. Come to think of it, how has no one entered deep-fried Lipitor?
Two dishes fall into this category: Chicken Fried Cactus Bites, “hand-picked prickly pear cactus pads that are thinly sliced, chicken battered and deep fried, and served with a combination of sweet & spicy secret jalapeno ranch, and agave nectar dipping sauce,” and Fried Mexican Fire Crackers, “a yummy, spicy chicken, cheese and jalapeno mix wrapped in fresh-made masa dough and deep fried to a crispy, crunchy, explosion of flavor” (served with fiery TNT sauce).
Tasty and simple, right? One even involves vegetables! And the other’s pretty much a crisped gordita.
Fried Pork Wing. “This juicy morsel is slow cooked for six hours then lightly deep fried, rolled and tossed in a smoked bacon chipotle glaze. Accompanied by old-school homemade potato chips lightly dusted in barbecue seasoning, it’s a sure crowd pleaser.”
Is Jessica Simpson on the judging panel?
FOOD ON A STICK:
Can there really only be just one? As the picture shows, the fried bacon-cinnamon roll is skewered, but did they call it “Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll On a Stick”? They did not. Picnic on a Stick is “pieces of delicious spicy fried chicken alternate tater tots and slices of dill pickle. Repeated three times on a stick then dipped in batter, rolled in bread crumbs, and fried until golden brown, this picnic wouldn’t be complete without its choice of BBQ sauce, ranch, or honey mustard. BYO ants.”
Sold! Where’s the recipe? (And ants are not too hard to come by right now.)
Our guess: “Most Creative” goes to Deep Fried Jambalaya, which has both the “so crazy it just might work” factor and the proven repeat champion’s hand.
And “Best Taste,” as you can probably tell, we’d give to Picnic on a Stick, which seems to have the proper combination of pizzazz and classic flavor (other recent winners in this category have been Texas-Fried Fritos Pie, Fried Peaches and Cream and Chicken-Fried Bacon).
Not included on this list, but still part of the Fair (as part of a celebration of the Girl Scouts of America’s 100th Anniversary): Deep-Fried Samoas Cookies.