Funnel cake ice cream, a bacon-wrapped Twinkie, and a cotton candy taco are among the finalists for the State Fair of Texas' 2018 Big Tex Choice Awards, the annual contest celebrating fried foods.
The 10 finalists named will compete for one of three winning titles: Best Taste–Sweet, Best Taste–Savory, and Most Creative. The final judging is a public event with "celebrity judges" on August 26. Tickets this year, available online at BigTex.com, are $125.
The five finalists for savory are as follows:
Deep Fried Shepherd's Pie by Clint Probst
They mix shredded cheddar cheese and cream into their savory mashed potato pillows. Each potato ball is filled with Grandma's shepherd's pie filling made of ground beef, mixed vegetables, and beef gravy. A special seasoning adds flavors and textures as the filling and creamy potatoes mix with each bite.
Deep Fried Skillet Potato Melt in a Boat by Tom Grace
A tater tot on steroids, this dish starts with golden brown skillet potatoes, followed by diced breakfast sausage patties. The mixture is then packed around a mini Babybel cheese loaf. It's rolled in seasoned flour and fried. They're served in potato skins and topped with cheddar and bacon bites, with sour cream chipotle sauce served on the side.
Fernie’s Hoppin’ John Cake with Jackpot Sauce by Winter Family Concessions
The classic ingredients of black-eyed peas, white rice, spicy smoked sausage, green onions, and a secret blend of special spices are combined with bread crumbs and eggbeaters and formed into a cake. This cake is breaded in an egg wash that includes flour and panko bread crumbs and deep fried. The cake is topped with a black-eyed pea relish, garnished with pickled okra, and served with a side of Jackpot Sauce.
Texas Fried Hill Country by Justin & Rudy Martinez
The best of everything that would come out of the Hill Country in Central Texas. Fried mozzarella and basil are sandwiched between two green tomato slices, then hand-breaded with seasoned breadcrumbs and fried. Each dish is served on a bed of field greens, finished with balsamic drizzle and Texas honey.
Texas Twang-kie by Chris & Sherry Howard
Cornbread cake is hollowed out and filled with Tex-Mex grilled chicken white bean chili. Each twang-kie is served with cornbread fries and more chili for dipping.
The finalists for sweet are as follows:
Arroz con Leche (Sweet Crispy Rice) by the Garza Family
A cinnamon-spiced rice ball is formed, battered, and coated in crispy puffed rice cereal. The ball is then fried and served with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and powdered cinnamon.
Cotton Candy Taco by Justin & Rudy Martinez
This sweet s'more creation begins with a graham cracker waffle cone batter that is pressed into a crunchy taco shell shape. The inside of the shell is coated with marshmallow glaze, then stuffed with chocolate, toasted marshmallow, and cane sugar cotton candy. It's topped with chocolate cookie crumbles and two chocolate cream-covered biscuit sticks with marshmallows.
Fernie’s Orange You Glad We Fried It?! by Winter Family Concessions
Layers of moist chiffon orange cake, whipped cream, and orange preserves are blended to form a refreshing custard-like filling. The mixture is spooned into puff pastry dough, folded turnover style and sealed, then fried into crescent-shaped pillows of citrus bliss. It comes with two dipping sauces and a double citrus twist slice.
State Fair Fun-L Cake Ice Cream by Tom Landis
The essence and flavor of a funnel cake is combined with ice cream. Created by Howdy Homemade, this super premium ice cream has funnel cake flavor infused into it with funnel cake pieces and powdered sugar mixed throughout. Served with whipped cream and strawberry sauce.
Sweet Bakin’ Bacon by Ed & Eddie Campbell
A cream-filled sponge cake is wrapped in bacon, then dipped in a funnel cake batter and fried.