In case you've been living under a rock with exceptionally poor Wi-Fi, you're no doubt well aware that the State Fair of Texas opens for the season on Friday — and nothing has been buzzed about quite so much as this year's new food offerings.
In the more than two dozen new dishes the State Fair has touted in recent weeks, there are some clear themes. Bacon appears in nine different dishes, and there are, as always, several items that take a familiar food and deep-fry it: deep-fried smoked salmon, deep-fried chicken pot pie, deep-fried cannoli. At this past weekend's Chefs for Farmers festival, a sous vide set-up could often be spotted behind chefs eagerly plating dishes — and you'll spot it at the State Fair, too, where you can try sous vide lamb with mint jelly.
But alas, with so many new foods at this year's fair — along with all the old cornmeal-battered favorites — it will be damn near impossible to try everything, so you'd better plan ahead. You might want to stick with salads in the few days before you hit the fair, because you're in for a calorie overload. Here are a few of the new dishes we're most excited to try this year:
Fernie’s Down Home Chicken Pot Pie Pocket with Mac 'n' Cheese Dip
"A savory cream sauce chock-full of shredded roasted chicken breast, tender diced white potatoes, sweet carrots, peas, corn and a special blend of herbs and spices" is ladled into pastry dough and folded "Hot Pocket-style." It's served with a mac 'n' cheese dip. You hear that, world? A deep-fried pot pie pocket that you are then encouraged to dip into macaroni and cheese. If marijuana didn't play at least a small part in the creation of this dish, we'd be shocked.
Deep Fried Smoked Salmon & Bacon Croquettes
"Deep-fried crispy croquettes are stuffed with salmon and bacon then topped with a delicious remoulade sauce. Each order is served with a side of Cajun fries." Croquettes? Remoulade? What is this, the State Fair of Fancy? As fervent lovers of a good lox spread, this dish sounds like the hangover food of our dreams.
Crunchy Fried Oinkers
"A fresh slider roll filled with a tender Texas pulled pork and a sweet chili pepper barbecue sauce. The meat is topped with slices of dill pickles before the slider is egg-battered and deep-fried to golden perfection. Served with a broccoli slaw tossed in a tangy vinaigrette." We mostly just want this dish because it's called Crunchy Fried Oinkers.
Deep Fried Cannoli Bites
"This modern twist on the cream-filled Italian classic dessert begins with hot pastry and explodes into a warm sweet cream center, sprinkled with rich mini-chocolate chips. The Cannoli Bites finish with a zesty hint of citrus and orange. Lightly dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with dark and white chocolate." If ever there was a good use of the deep-fried ball of food, this seems to be it. Dark chocolate? Citrus? If this food-ball isn't amazing, we're going to be very bummed out.
Deep Fried Clam Chowda
"Fried clam chowder bites breaded in Panko bread crumbs and placed on top a bed of fried clams. Each order is served with a Sriracha ranch dipping sauce." Despite the fact that we have no intention of saying the word "chowda," this one has our attention. What the world needs now is not love — it's deep-fried balls of soup.
Doritos® Bacon Mozzarella Cheese Stick
"Fresh-cut thick mozzarella covered with bacon then dipped in a Dorito batter and fried. Served with a special marinara and ranch sauce." I feel stoned just looking at this.
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Cherry-flavored Jell-O is coated in Panko bread crumbs, flash-fried, dusted with powdered sugar and topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
State Fair Cookie Fries
A deep-fried cookie — in flavors like chocolate chip or sprinkles — shaped like a French fry and served with strawberry or milk chocolate sauce. This has been one of the most touted foods at this year's fair, which is fascinating — they're just deep-fried cookies that are shaped like fries instead of circles. And yet ... we want them.
State Fair Edible Cola
"These organically sweetened sodas are sure to please as they are served in flavored edible cups. For the first time ever at a State Fair, a disposable cup that you can actually eat instead of throwing it away!" Gimmicky? Yes. But these edible cups of Maine Root soda are particularly interesting because the cup is made by Loliware, a company Mark Cuban invested in on an episode of Shark Tank. The flavored cups are made, in part, from seaweed, and we're curious about the flavor, the texture and the precedent this sets for future fair dishes — imagine if much of the fair's food packaging could be consumed rather than tossed into a landfill.
Dallas’ Fried Bacon-Tilla
"Bacon slices are hand-woven in the shape of a tortilla and fried into taco shell form, filled with beef, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and then more bacon." It's hard to imagine that this dish could be anything more than a greasy pile of weird, but who knows? Maybe "tortillas" made of bacon is the future. Maybe this is the start of a new world where "hand-woven" bacon replaces everything from hamburger buns to foccacia. Maybe bacon will win the Nobel Peace Prize. One thing is for certain: We won't know for sure until we stuff this down our eager mouth-holes.