All the Food That's Fit To Fry

Hold on to your arteries: State Fair of Texas announces finalists for Big Tex Choice Fried Food Awards 2012

Hold on to your arteries: State Fair of Texas announces finalists for Big Tex Choice Fried Food Awards 2012

Grab the Lipitor and take a deep breath: The 2012 State Fair of Texas has announced the finalists for its eighth annual Big Tex® Choice Awards, the Oscars of fried foods.

  • Chicken-Fried Cactus Bites
  • Deep Fried Divine Chocolate Tres Leches Cake
  • Deep Fried Jambalaya
  • Deep Fried Mac-N-Cheese Slider
  • Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll
  • Fried Mexican Fire Crackers
  • Picnic on a Stick
  • Fried Pork Wing

Descriptions of the Big Tex Choice Award finalists 2012:

Chicken-Fried Cactus Bites. Handpicked prickly pear cactus pads, thinly sliced, chicken battered and deep fried. Served with sweet and spicy secret jalapeno ranch and agave nectar dipping sauce.

Deep Fried Divine Chocolate Tres Leches Cake. Chocolate tres leches cake soaked in buttermilk batter and fried. Finished with a sprinkle of cinnamon, whipped cream, strawberry slices and peaches drizzled with syrup. 

Deep Fried Jambalaya. From-scratch jambalaya with shrimp, Cajun sausage and seasonings, coated in lightly seasoned flour and fried. Served with spicy ranch sauce.

Deep Fried Mac-N-Cheese Slider. Three-cheese mac is baked, battered in bread crumbs and deep fried until crisp on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. Placed on a slider bun with a griddled beef patty.

Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll. Cinnamon roll dipped in 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.

Fried Mexican Fire Crackers. Spicy chicken, cheese and jalapeno mix wrapped in masa dough and deep fried. Served with fiery TNT sauce.

Fried Pork Wing. Slow cooked for six hours then deep fried, rolled and tossed in a smoked bacon chipotle glaze. Accompanied by homemade potato chips dusted in barbecue seasoning.

Picnic on a Stick. Pieces of spicy fried chicken alternated with tater tots and dill pickles. Repeated three times on a stick, then dipped in batter, rolled in bread crumbs and fried. With choice of BBQ sauce, ranch or honey mustard. BYO ants.

The history behind the Big Tex Choice Awards

Originally known for its signature Fletcher's Corny Dogs, the State Fair of Texas took its first walk on the fried side in 2005 when it launched the Big Tex Choice Awards to draw attention to what the fair does best: fried foods. Concessionaire Abel Gonzales came through in 2006 with his inspired creation, fried Coke, consisting of Coke-flavored batter fried into a crunchy ball.

From there, it’s gotten crazier ever since: Who could forget 2009's fried butter, a ball of fried dough with a buttery center? Then came fried beer, a ravioli contraption with a "filling" of lukewarm beer. And last year's controversial fried bubblegum, a gooey bubblegum-flavored marshmallow coated in a pink-tinted crust. The awards have brought international notoriety to the State Fair beyond what was ever dreamed. The awards also made the fair hugely influential, as other state fairs around the country follow suit with their own copycat recipes.

Vendors submit recipes for two categories: Best Taste and Most Creative. Dozens of contestants compete, but the field is narrowed to eight. The finalists present their creations to a panel of judges, who will announce the winners on Labor Day.

The State Fair of Texas opens September 28 and runs through October 21.

Fried Coke, State Fair of Texas
Fried Coke, side by side with Big Tex. Courtesy of Kevin Brown, State Fair of Texas
Fried Bubblegum, State Fair of Texas
2011's fried bubblegum was ooey-gooey. Courtesy of State Fair of Texas
Fried Beer, State Fair of Texas
Fried beer: Ravioli filled with Shiner Bock. Courtesy of Han + Diana Eats