It’s that time of year again when a State Fair’s fancy turns to thoughts of deep-fried food. That’s right, the State Fair of Texas’s Big Tex Award Semi-Finalists have been announced, and yes, the purveyors of fine deep-fried experiments did find even wilder things to dip in their deep fryers this year.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: What is the Jello Pudding Pops deep-fried Buc-ee’s? If you were thinking Beaver Nuggets, you nailed it. The top-selling snack from Buc-ee’s is getting the deep-fried treatment, along with some powdered sugar, caramel, and a sprinkling of crushed Beaver Nuggets. So, like a funnel cake but with a lot of Buc-ee’s.
Among the usual plethora of deep-fried offerings, this year has a fair amount of food inventions that are not at all fried — and one might notice there’s a definite Cajun bent to the savory offerings.
The good, the bad, and the ugly from the semi-finalists for 2022:
Bayou Bowl: three-cheese macaroni topped with shrimp scampi and lump crab, both cooked in scampi butter, drizzled with Cajun cream sauce (going to guess that’s mayo with Cajun spices and sriracha) and served with a piece of andouille sausage and French bread for getting all the gravy
Doh-Muff: a yeast doughnut stuffed with Bavarian cream and coated in banana nut muffin batter meet in a deep fryer and then get topped with a pecan glaze plus bananas and strawberries
Chicharron Explosion Nachos: Yeah, it’s pork rind nachos with beef fajita meat, queso, and all that is also topped with a full serving of chopped beef barbecue. Oh, and don’t forget the Cajun seasonings
Fat Elvis: Uh yeah, it’s peanut butter and strawberry jelly spread on a biscuit with a layer of marshmallow fluff, bacon, and fried plantains — like the original Fool’s Gold Leaf sandwich this is based on, it uses creamy peanut butter
Deep-Fried Texas Country Cookout: A combo of pulled pork, herbed goat cheese, and special sauce (what do you want to bet it’s made with love?) covered in bread crumbs and deep-fried with both cole slaw and potato salad on top and served with jalapeno barbecue sauce
Peanut Butter Paradise: The base is a deep-fried honey bun, so you can see where this starts at off the rails. That gets injected with caramel and topped with creamy peanut butter, and decorated with Reese’s Pieces, crushed Butterfinger crumbles, peanut butter cups, drizzled caramel, and a cloud of powder sugar
Fried Charcuterie Board: No explanation needed, other than say it uses mozzarella, salami, and green apples and that all ingredients are wrapped in a wonton wrapper then topped with goat cheese and honey — so, sophisticated fried food
Triple Lemon Bliss: A combo of flash-fried ladyfingers, lemon bars, lemon pound cake, and lemon cream cheese filling — quite frankly, sounds refreshing
Holy Biscuit: On said vessel goes brisket, street corn queso, thick-cut bacon, Texas honey, and pickle french fries
Texas Hot Bull Ride: Grab a glass of water before you eat this combo of shrimp battered in “special Texas seasoning” and special sauce (oh boy) with a side of ranch
As always, these semi-finalists are competing for Best Taste – Savory, Best Taste – Sweet, and Most Creative.
The State Fair of Texas runs from Friday, September 30 through Sunday, October 23 at Fair Park.