It all started with 51 entries represented by 36 dealers. The Texas State Fair has now narrowed down the Big Tex Choice Award finalists to a coveted 10, judged on uniqueness, creativity, presentation and taste. These final 10 dishes will be tested by a panel of celebrity judges on August 28. This elite panel will decide which dishes will receive the titles of best tasting – salty, best tasting – sweet and most creative.
Unfortunately, we weren’t invited to the tasting, and most of us won’t be able to get our teeth into these wild dishes before the opening of the fair at the end of September. So we’ll all have to make do with our eyeing these photos of the finalists and decide which ones to make sure we find between Ferris wheel rides and eating Fletcher’s nerdy dogs.
Below, along with the blessed/cursed description from the Texas State Fair press release, are the finalists in all their glory.
Chicharron Explosion Nachos
“Fresh pork rinds are fried until golden crispy, then seasoned with just the right amount of Cajun-style seasonings to ensure an appetizing kick. Next, smoked beef fajita meat is spread over the crispy nachos and topped with delicious, freshly made queso. For a flavor explosion, these chicharron nachos are topped with a full serving of savory BBQ ground beef. “
“The crispy bacon is folded into a 12 inch tortilla with a heap of shredded cheddar cheese to bind all the corners. The rectangle-shaped tortilla is soaked in the air fryer, just long enough to achieve a golden brown crunch and melted cheddar and bacon deliciousness. Then the fried goodness is used as sandwich bread by cutting it in half and layering fresh crisp lettuce, two slices of juicy red tomatoes and mayonnaise in between. To top it all off, the fried creation is paired with freshly cut garlic parmesan chips for a truly notorious BLT!
Fried lasagna roll
“The ribbon pasta is topped with a perfect blend of fresh ricotta, parmesan, provolone and mozzarella cheeses, then topped with an incredible homemade meat sauce. Then more cheese is added and the past is gently hand-rolled, creating delicious layers of flavor. The lasagna roll is dipped in a cheddar and herb batter and fried golden brown, creating a crispy yet flaky crust. The roll is then topped with a splash of marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil, creating a tantalizing burst of flavor. Served with a side of fried zucchini fries, this dish gives you a taste of Italy with a Texan twist!
Fried charcuterie board
“Fresh chopped mozzarella, salami and crunchy green apples are tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Italian herbs. Then the ingredients are wrapped in wonton wrapper and fried to a golden crisp, topped with creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of warm honey.
“This tantalizing southern explosion begins with a perfectly baked golden cookie. Next, slow-smoked shredded beef brisket and ladle-roasted street corn queso are piled on top of the cracker. Next, thick bacon is drizzled with Texas honey with a little spice. The masterpiece is complete when topped with crispy pickle fries.
“Inspired by the cha-cha dance, the recipe begins with a triple step of two kinds of milk and vanilla ice cream blended to perfection with the Garza family’s top-secret (but reputedly delicious) horchata recipe. The creamy drink is then poured into a caramel and cinnamon-lined mug and topped with a Texas-sized dollop of whipped topping. To bring even more flavor to your taste buds, the Cha-Cha Chata is sprinkled with crushed candies, a sprinkle of cinnamon galletas de gragega and fried arroz con leche bites.
Deep Fried Rocky Road with Blue Bell Ice Cream
“Rocky Road Kettle Fresh Fudge is coated in a fluffy, lightly sweetened batter and fried to perfection, piled high and drizzled with chocolate syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Mini marshmallows and chopped cinnamon-glazed nuts are dusted with powdered sugar. The dish comes with a single-serving sundae of Blue Bell Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla.
“This decadent beverage is inspired by the iconic Texas bluebonnets that have served as a natural backdrop for many memorable moments in life. Freshly squeezed citrus juices and blueberries are folded into a sweet base, then shaken well to achieve the perfect balance of sweet and tangy.Then, the savory concoction is poured over refreshing ice and garnished with an optional lemon-mint-berry twist.
Peanut butter heaven
“Peanut butter heaven starts with frying a honey bun. Next, caramel is injected into the honey bread, then covered in creamy peanut butter. The treat is then layered with fan-favorite peanut butter treats, Reese’s Pieces, Crushed Butterfinger crumbles, topped with cups of peanut butter, drizzled caramel and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Brookie’s Ultimate Monster
“It starts with crispy, chewy chocolate chip cookies, topped with Oreos and marshmallows. Then the creation is covered in a triple chocolate brownie batter and baked together in a super brookie. The fun begins when the brookie is then beaten and fried. Then the super brookie is drizzled with powdered sugar and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To finish, it is topped with cheesecake crumbles and strawberry sauce.