Deep-fried creations vying for Big Tex Choice Awards, appearance at State Fair of Texas

·8 min read
Visitors attend opening day of the State Fair of Texas on Friday, September 24, 2021, in Dallas. (Amanda McCoy/amccoy@star-telegram.com)

If you’re on a diet, look away.

When the State Fair of Texas opens this fall a turkey leg taquito, fried charcuterie board or “Fat Elvis” could be awaiting hungry attendees.

The fair announced the semi-finalists of the 18th annual Big Tex Choice Awards food competition Wednesday. The annual competition pits concessionaires vying to have their food featured at the fair.

In total, 36 semifinalists will move to the next round comprised of 19 savory and 17 sweet entries. Each competitor is vying for one of the three winning titles: “Best Taste — Savory”, “Best Taste — Sweet” and “Most Creative”.

The savory section:

  • Bayou bowl — A three-cheese macaroni topped with shrimp and lump crab, then drizzled with Cajun cream sauce and accompanied by a piece of andouille sausage and French bread.

  • Cajun Lobster Bisque Croquettes — Lightly seasoned fried potato balls filled with a mixture of rich lobster meat and creamy brie cheese that’s served with a side of Cajun lobster bisque for dipping.

  • Chicharron Explosion Nachos — Fresh pork rinds are fried and topped with smoked beef fajita meat queso, and chopped beef barbecue.

  • Crispy Dilly Dog — A dill pickle is cored and filled with an all-beef hot dog, that is then dipped in freshly made corn dog batter and deep-fried, served with zesty chipotle mayo.

  • Deep-Fried BLT — Bacon is folded into a 12” tortilla along with shredded cheddar cheese and then fried and used as sandwich bread that’s layered with lettuce, red tomato slices, and mayonnaise. Served with garlic parmesan chips.

  • Deep-Fried Brisket Cheese Sticks — Mozzarella is dressed with chopped brisket and fried, then getting a dusting of grated Parmesan cheese and served with a marinara dipping sauce.

  • Deep-Fried Lasagna Roll — Pasta is covered with a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, provolone and mozzarella cheese, then topped with meat sauce. The lasagna roll is dipped in a cheddar and herb batter and fried, served with a side of deep-fried Zucchini fries.

  • Deep-Fried Texas Country Cookout — Pulled pork is mixed with herbed goat cheese and homemade special sauce and deep-fried. A dollop of coleslaw and potato salad sits on top and is drizzled with sweet homemade jalapeño BBQ sauce.

  • Dim Sum Loco Burritos — Smoked shredded pork, lightly fried diced potatoes, onions, bell peppers and melty pepper jack cheese are rolled burrito-style in egg roll wrappers and deep-fried. It is served with charred beer-battered sweet, smokey Shishito peppers and a thin, salty meaty broth garnished with cilantro and diced green onions as a dip.

  • Fried Charcuterie Board — Chopped-up mozzarella, salami and crisp green apples are tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Italian herbs. It is then wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried, topped with creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of hot honey.

  • Fried Soul Food Egg roll — An egg roll is filled with barbecue-flavored marinated chicken and combined with grandma’s old-school flavored collard greens and mac ‘n cheese. The egg roll is then deep-fried and topped with a fusion sauce.

  • Holy Biscuit — A biscuit is stacked with shredded brisket and ladle fire-roasted street corn queso. Then, thick-cut bacon drizzled with Texas honey is added and served with pickle French fries.

  • Shaking Beef Salad — Beef is cut into small cubes and sauteed, and then tossed with cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, pepper and soy sauce.

  • Southern Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie Waffles Sliders — A fried chicken filet is sandwiched between Belgian waffles stuffed with heirloom sweet potato pie. The sliders are then topped with maple syrup and bacon.

  • Texas Hot Bull Ride — Shrimp is battered and tossed in a hot and smoky sweet special sauce. Then served with zesty ranch dressing.

  • Texas Ranch Hog Wings — Pulled pork is seasoned with a blend of spicy ranch salt, then, drizzled with homemade sauce and garnished with fresh green chives.

  • Texas Slide — Slider buns are made out of waffles, then filled with chicken, steak, sauteed bell peppers, onions, provolone cheese and a secret sauce.

  • Texas Twosome — Texas toast is grilled and a thick layer of American cheese is added, then stacked high with Fritos, chili, and jalapeños.

  • Turkey Leg Taquito — A turkey leg is shredded and mixed with a blend of cheese, bacon and jalapeños. Then, the mixture is wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried and served with chips, queso and hot sauce.

The sweet entries:

  • Cha-Cha Chata — The recipe starts with a triple-step of two kinds of milk and vanilla ice cream blended with horchata. The creamy drink is then poured into a cup rimmed with caramel and cinnamon and topped with a Texas-sized dollop of whipped topping. The drink is dressed with crushed candy, a sprinkle of cinnamon galletas de gragega, and deep-fried arroz con leche bites.

  • Crunchberry® Shortcake — Large strawberries are dipped in thick, rich shortcake batter and fried until golden brown. The shortcakes are served with whipped cream for dipping and crowned with a drizzle of strawberry syrup and topped with Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries®.

  • Deep Fried Buc-ee’s® — Buc-ee’s® Beaver Nuggets are deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with a silky caramel topping and Beaver Nugget sprinkles.

  • Deep Fried Honey — Raw all-natural Texas honey is wrapped and deep fried, then topped with powdered sugar, a cinnamon sugar concoction and raw Texas honey from Texas’ own Rescue Bee Ranch.

  • Deep Fried Praline Cheesecake Egg Roll — Praline cheesecake filling is wrapped in an eggroll wrapper, then deep fried. The egg roll is drizzled in homemade praline sauce and topped with candied praline pecan crumbles.

  • Deep Fried Rocky Road with Blue Bell Ice Cream® — Rocky Road Kettle Fresh Fudge is coated then deep fried, stacked high and drizzled with chocolate syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Mini marshmallows and chopped cinnamon glazed nuts are sprinkled on top with powdered sugar and is served with vanilla ice cream.

  • Deep Fried Southern Dessert Dumplings — Pieces of sweet potato and pecan pie are combined with morsels of dark chocolate then folded into a won ton wrapper, deep fried, and dusted with powdered sugar. Served with a special sauce and homemade rum-raspberry chipotle dipping sauce.

  • Deep Fried Strawberry Shortcake Crunch Roll — A homemade pink waffle batter is infused with strawberry purée and fried. Then drizzled with cream cheese icing and covered with our strawberry crunch — consisting of vanilla Oreo cookies, strawberry JELLO mix, and melted butter. It is then dusted with confection sugar and garnish it with a fresh strawberry.

  • Doh-Muff — A yeast doughnut is stuffed with Bavarian cream and coated in banana nut muffin batter. Then fried and topped with pecan butter glaze, fresh bananas, and strawberries.

  • Fat Elvis — A blend of peanut butter and strawberry jelly are whisked together and spread on a biscuit. A layer of marshmallow fluff and fire toast is next, followed by bacon and fried plantain bananas.

  • Fried Texas Fruit Salad — Chopped cinnamon apples, tart cherries and luscious peaches with strawberry cream cheese are combined with candied jalapeños and is balled and rolled in a crunchy batter and fried.

  • La Bluebonnet — Freshly squeezed citrus juices and blueberries are folded into a sugary base and then shaken well and poured over ice and topped with an optional lemon-mint-berry twist.

  • Peanut Butter Paradise — A deep fried honey bun is injected with caramel and topped with creamy peanut butter. Peanut butter treats, Reese’s Pieces, Crushed Butterfinger crumbles are layered on and then topped off with peanut butter cups, drizzled caramel, and a cloud of powdered sugar.

  • Raspberry Chipotle Sopapilla Cheesecake — Sweet raspberries and spicy chipotle are blended with cream cheese and topped with raspberry glaze on a crispy buttery sugar-coated crust — served with a drizzle of raspberry compote, whipped topping, and chopped pecans.

  • Smoked Bacon Wrapped Cookie Dough Balls — Chocolate chip cookie dough is rolled into balls and wrapped in a slice of bacon. Served with a smoked chocolate dipping sauce.

  • The Ultimate Brookie Monster — Crispy, chewy chocolate chip cookies are layered with Oreos and marshmallows — then covered in triple-chocolate brownie batter and baked together into a super brookie. The super brookie is then fried and showered in powdered sugar and served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • Triple Lemon Bliss — Ladyfingers are given a quick flash fry and then layered with lemon bars and citrus lemon pound cake and is topped with a cream cheese filling and garnished with lemon candies.

The contest kicked off in June with 51 entries from 36 concessionaires, all required to have at least one year of experience at the State Fair of Texas. Each entry is judged blindly by an internal panel, meaning they don’t know which concessionaire is behind the food.

Over the next several weeks, the second round of judging will begin. By mid-August, the top 10 entries will compete in the final round at this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony.

Even if the cuisine of choice doesn’t make it to the main event, concessionaires can still choose to introduce their food at their stand as a “new food” during this year’s State Fair.

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