A little earlier than usual, the State Fair of Texas has announced the finalists for the 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards — or as we like to call them, the fried food awards. This year's lineup hits on some big foodie trends, including tacos, craft beer and the hot condiment Sriracha sauce.
The contest, which premiered in 2005, has seen such novelties as fried butter, fried bubble gum and fried beer. The 2013 winners were Fried Thanksgiving Dinner, for most creative, and Fried Cuban Roll for best taste.
This year's judges are pretty "foodie" too: Top Chef contestant Tiffany Derry, BBQ Snob and Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, Dallas lifestyle blogger Cynthia Smoot and 1310 The Ticket personality Donovan Lewis. Emcee is Hawkeye from 96.3 KSCS.
This year, for the first time, a non-celebrity will be added to the judging panel. The fair held a contest in which anyone could submit a video to apply for a spot at the judge's table. And for the first time, a limited number of people can also attend the judging on Labor Day, September 1, at 10 am and get to sample the entries; tickets are for sale here.
Without further ado, this year's finalists in the Big Tex Choice Awards:
Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato
The creamy and moist insides of a baked potato — loaded with butter, bacon and cheddar cheese — are coated and battered with a blend of spices and flour to create a combination of fried crispy crust and creamy loaded baked potato. Served with a ranch dipping sauce.
Deep Fried "Breakfast for Dinner"
A twist on a favorite American dinner. This is a 10-inch flour tortilla stuffed with eight favorite breakfast items: scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, ham, onion, cheddar cheese and gooey cinnamon roll bits. It is deep fried until golden brown and served with a creamy country gravy, salsa and a pico-queso dip.
Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet
The Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet is a blueberry muffin, scone-style batter stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and white chocolate chips. It is baked and deep fried, then topped with whipped cream, chopped white chocolate morsels, powdered sugar, blueberries and blueberry glaze.
Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil
Everything you would expect in a shrimp boil — baby Gulf shrimp, diced red potatoes, onion, lemon and seasoning — rolled into a ball around a cocktail shrimp, dusted with fish fry and fried to a golden brown. The tail sticks out for a handle. Served with remoulade sauce.
Fried Sriracha Balls
A combination of shredded chicken, corn, green chilies, tomatoes and Sriracha, formed into balls and coated with crispy tortilla chips, then flash-fried until golden brown. For those who like their food higher on the Scoville scale, extra Sriracha sauce is available.
Fried Sweet Texas
Traveling across Texas to try the best and most popular desserts provided inspiration for this fried treat. Fried Sweet Texas starts with fresh pie dough filled with crunchy pecan pie, juicy peach cobbler and creamy buttermilk pie. It is deep fried until the crust is golden brown and flaky, then served with a side of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.
Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale
A light and delicious ale brewed to be reminiscent of one of the telltale flavors of the State Fair: funnel cake. The English-style summer ale has been brewed to be ready and crisp, with just the right amount of toastiness and sweetness, finishing with delicate notes of natural vanilla — all flavors you find in a funnel cake. You can get the rim of your cup coated with powdered sugar. Must be 21 years of age.
Twisted Texas Tacos
This is what you get when you combine the four major food groups of Texas: chicken fried, barbecue, Tex-Mex and chili. The taco starts with hickory-smoked Texas beef brisket, double-dipped in a barbecue-spiced buttermilk batter and deep fried. It is served in a warm flour tortilla, layered with a Mexican cheese blend, crispy fried okra, and a sweet and crunchy tri-color slaw accented with zesty poblano and sweet pepper corn. Served with a creamy country gravy, spicy Texas chili and a miniature salute from the Lone Star flag.