The State Fair is rearing its head once again, and we all know what that means. Start loosening those belts, add a few miles to the treadmill now and maybe purchase a couple of extra stocks in Pepto-Bismol, because the food this year has no shortage of creative, unique and deep-fried selections.
From Big Red frosting-covered chicken wings to burnt ends piled high in a burrito, here are the top 10 food items that made it to the final round of the State Fair’s Big Tex Choice Awards for 2019.
Calypso Island Shrimp Bowl
A tropical-inspired rice and shrimp bowl, this dish incorporates flavors of the Pacific with an astonishing array of color. Made with cabbage, carrots, basil, ginger and red bell peppers and topped with yellow rice and a sticky spicy and sweet glazed shrimp, this is one dish certain to catch fair-goers' eyes.
Fernie’s Fried Burnt End Burrito
Everyone knows the best part of barbecue is getting a bite of the crispy, blackened, succulent burnt ends. This dish takes that flavor and cranks it up to the max. Built with a traditional tortilla, a spread of jalapeño popper cream cheese, crispy bacon and a Mexican cheese blend, it's like Tex-Mex had a baby with a Hill Country barbecue joint. If all that weren’t enough though, the whole thing is folded up, lightly fried and topped with barbecue sauce.
Ruth’s Stuffed Fried Mexi-Cone
Things taste better when they’re on a stick or in a cone. This dish takes that concept to the flavors of Mexico. A tortilla is wound into a cone shape and stuffed with cilantro-lime rice, pico de gallo, queso fresco, salsa verde and, of course, barbacoa.
Southern Fried Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo Ball
Have you ever been eating at your favorite Italian restaurant and thought, “Yeah, this is good and all, but I would enjoy this so much more if it were a deep-fried sphere?” We’ve all been there. This dish answers all those desires and more with Southern fried chicken mixed in with fettuccine Alfredo.
Texas Cream Corn Casserole Fritters
Creamed corn is one of those things many people love, but they might be too afraid to admit it, for fear of sounding like an old person. Fear no more, because this dish brings all the buttery, creamy corny goodness into the modern age. Creamed corn, cheddar cheese and cornbread mix are all brought together and deep fried until golden brown and delicious. They’re served with even more corn, with a creamed corn queso blanco dipping sauce.
Big Red Chicken Bread
Blending the two categories of savory and sweet, this dish aims to dethrone the mighty chicken and waffles with its combination of fried and sweet. Homemade Big Red soda-flavored icing is slathered on a doughnut and topped with a deep-fried chicken wing.
Deep-Fried Bayou Fruit Bites
For those who want some semblance of healthy eating, this is your dish (at the fair, anyway). Juicy wedges of fresh fruit are lightly coated and fried. Upon emerging from the fryer, they are covered in a housemade, syrupy confection and garnished with fresh whipped cream, caramel and a choice of toppings, from chocolate chips to walnuts and pecans.
If you’ve ever been to a fruiteria and wondered where all the deep fryers were, your question is answered here. This dish takes the iconic mango twist and deep fries it. The whole thing is then coated in a sticky and sweet citrus glaze, topped with whipped topping and paired with strawberry-mango sorbet.
Peanut Butter Cup Snookie
An odd name for a simply delicious-sounding dish, this item brings a bit of simplicity to the State Fair food lineup. A fresh and warm peanut butter cookie is served a la mode, with caramel, chocolate drizzle and the expected cherry.
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Quick Fried Black Gold Truffles
If you’ve ever made cake balls, get ready for its more mature, cooler cousin, the black gold truffles. These little balls of sweetness start with crushed chocolate cookies, cream cheese and white chocolate chips. They’re rolled into spheres, coated in a light breading of vanilla wafers, cinnamon and nutmeg, then flash-fried until crunchy on the outside and just tender on the inside. They’re then topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and the red cherry.
And that's your lineup of finalists in the food category. Three winners will be crowned in the categories of best taste for sweet, best taste for savory and most creative at the 15th annual Big Tex Choice Awards on Sunday, Aug. 25. If you want to be one of the first to try those winners and the finalists, you can purchase a ticket to be there at 2 p.m. But be aware, that will set you back $125 (while an online ticket for a season pass currently sits at $45).
Either way, that time of year is quickly approaching. Happy eating and fair-going.
The 2019 State Fair of Texas runs Sept. 27-Oct. 20 at Fair Park.