The finalists have been revealed in the 2015 Big Tex Choice Awards, the annual, over-the-top food contest at the State Fair of Texas. This year, alligator, lobster, and buffalo make their debut.
There were 51 entries in the first round, and that has been narrowed down to eight finalists. A panel of judges — Dallas Mavericks’ Devin Harris, Big Game Sunday co-host Drew Pearson, TV host Dan Rodo, chef John Tesar, and Dallas city council member Tiffinni Young — will pick the winners on August 30, along with one non-celebrity chosen via random drawing.
The following finalists will compete for the titles of Best Tasting and Most Creative:
Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy by Abel Gonzales
This is a first for the Big Tex Choice Awards: lobster. An entire lobster tail is breaded, deep fried, and served with a sauce combining lemon butter and champagne gravy. It has the lavishness of a lobster dinner and the fried factor of a traditional fair food.
Cowboy Corn Crunch by Isaac Rousso
The Cowboy Corn Crunch blends savory and spice, with sweet corn, minced jalapeño, cream cheese, and a hint of smoky bacon. The tot is fried to a golden brown and served in a unique palm leaf cone.
Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest by Cassy Jones
Alligator makes its Big Tex Choice Awards debut. This dish blends alligator meat with Monterey Jack cheese, chopped jalapeños, onions, and garlic. The mixture is rolled in bread crumbs, fried to a golden brown, and served atop a nest of shoestring potatoes and drizzled with a chipotle sauce.
Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly by Christi Erpillo
Golden-baked bread swirled with cinnamon is flattened and filled with moist carrot cake, raisins, and julienned carrots. It's rolled with a light coating of cream cheese then breaded in a mixture of panko, graham crackers, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Drizzled with cream cheese frosting and dusted with powdered sugar, it is served with caramel and a caramel macchiato cream sauce.
Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo by James Barrera
Buffalo meat is another first on list this year. Lean, mesquite-smoked ground buffalo is rolled in Pequin chili pepper. The meat is crusted in crushed Corn Nuts and dipped in a batter made from Shiner Bock beer. Lightly dusted with bacon bits and served with a chipotle cream sauce.
Lone Star Pork Handle by Justin Martinez
Bone-in pork chop is marinated, then dipped in batter made with Lone Star Beer. The seasoned pork chop is smothered in toasted bread crumbs and deep fried until brown, then finished off with a coat of bourbon barbecue glaze. The bone serves as a handle.
Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso by Allan Weiss
Shredded chicken is combined with cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, cilantro, and Sriracha sauce. It is then rolled into a ball, crusted with a crispy pretzel breading, then deep fried. It is served with a jalapeño ranch dipping sauce.
Smoky Bacon Margarita by Isaac Rousso
This alcoholic drink takes the smokiness of bacon and infuses it into the citrus flavor of a frozen lime margarita. Finished off with bacon crumbles, it is served in a collectible souvenir cup.