UPDATE: Get out your defibrillator. Fried Jambalaya and Fried Bacon Cinnamon Rolls are the winners of this years Big Tex Choice Awards for fried foods to be showcased at The State of Fair of Texas.
The jambalaya which took Best Taste is the contribution of concessionaire Abel Gonzales, the mad scientist behind past winners such as Fried Coke, Fried Cookie Dough, and the impossible-to-forget Fried Butter of 2009.
For his Fried Jambalaya, Gonzales slams shrimp and Cajun sausage together, tosses some seasoned flour on the thing, and dunks it in the fryer.
Fellow concessionaire Butch Benavides cinnamon roll creation -- winner of Most Creative -- has been described as a main course and a dessert all in one, as its a roll dunked in pancake batter, topped with bacon crumbles, fried, and dusted with sugar. Dolly Madison just went into cardiac arrest.
These artery-cloggers beat out such other heart-stoppers as chicken-fried cactus bites, deep-fried divine chocolate tres leches cake, deep-fried mac-n-cheese sliders, fried Mexican fire crackers (some sort of spicy chicken cheese and jalapeño concoction), fried pork wings, and picnic on a stick (fried chicken, tater tots and dill pickle).
The State of Fair of Texas runs Sept. 28-Oct. 21 at Fair Park in Dallas. For more information, go to bigtex.com.
Below, read our previous story on this year's nominees.
Have you ever heard of "Chicken-Fried Cactus Bites?"
If they win Monday's Eighth Annual Big Tex Choice Awards, you might find yourself lining up with hordes of fairgoers to sample them at this year's State Fair of Texas. Along with other entries like Deep Fried Jambalaya and Fried Pork Wing, these creations have helped brand the State Fair a celebration of all things fried.
Described as "hand-picked prickly pear cactus pads" that include a slice of chicken, the treats are deep-fried and served with a jalapeno ranch and sweet nectar dipping sauce.
"It tastes like fried okra," said Butch Benavides. "I'm thinking fried cactus has a good shot. It's different and it tastes good. And the sauce really makes it. I think that's the key."
But Benavides, 66, of DeSoto, said some friends and family think his other entry, which follows the motto that you can never have enough bacon, could also win. Dubbed "Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll," it is pretty much what you would expect -- a cinnamon roll wrapped in pancake batter, rolled in bacon crumbles, then fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
"It's like breakfast on a stick," said Benavides.
Another contestant, Nick Bert, said his concoction, Fried Mexican Fire Crackers, is like sampling a Texas staple. It includes spicy chicken, cheese and jalapeno mix wrapped in masa dough that's deep-fried and served with a spicy sauce.
"I really just try to keep it simple," said Bert, whose grandfather started working at the fair in 1917. "This is kind of like fried Tex-Mex. This is Texas. Who doesn't like Tex-Mex?"
Bert, 49, works most of the year as a Dallas County sheriff's deputy and lives in Anna. He uses all his vacation to work at the fair and said winning the contest can be a boon for business. He has previously won for Texas Fried Frito Pie.
Yet he's dismayed that another creation, Southern Fried Bacon Ranch, didn't get picked for Monday's contest. He's still toying with selling it at this year's fair.
"I think it will sell." Bert said. "It's just what it sounds like, ranch dressing deep-fried."
One of the last of the multi-generation of vendors at the State Fair, Bert's grandfather, Samuel Bert, was credited with inventing the snow cone machine.
"We're part of a dying breed out here at the fair," Bert said. "There aren't a lot of us left."
The fried finalists
Here're descriptions of the finalists for the Big Tex Choice Awards:
Chicken Fried Cactus Bites - Fairgoers will stick with these hand-picked prickly pear cactus pads, thinly sliced, chicken battered and deep-fried to perfection. Served with a combination of sweet & spicy secret jalapeno ranch, and agave nectar dipping sauce.
Deep-Fried Divine Chocolate Tres Leches Cake - A slice of chocolate tres leches cake soaked in buttermilk batter, and fried to perfection. A light sprinkle of cinnamon, topped with whipped cream, fresh strawberry slices and peaches are drizzled with a yummy syrup.
Deep Fried Jambalaya - A State Fair spin is given to this Cajun classic. This "from scratch" jambalaya is created using shrimp, Cajun sausage and seasonings, then coated in lightly seasoned flour and fried to a golden perfection. This deep-fried Southern delectable will be served with a side of "made in house" spicy ranch sauce.
Deep Fried Mac-N-Cheese Slider - This three-cheese mac is baked until golden brown, battered in bread crumbs, deep-fried until crisp on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. Placed on a slider bun with a griddled beef patty, this southern-style invention almost calls for a rocking chair and a front porch.
Fried Bacon Cinnamon Roll - Deliciously fresh cinnamon roll dipped in a special sweet pancake batter, rolled in crispy fried bacon crumbles, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It's a main course and a dessert all in one.
Fried Pork Wing - This juicy morsel is slow-cooked for six hours then lightly deep-fried, rolled and tossed in a smoked bacon chipotle glaze. Accompanied by old-school homemade potato chips lightly dusted in barbecue seasoning, it's a sure crowd pleaser.
Picnic on a Stick - Pieces of delicious spicy fried chicken alternate tater tots and slices of dill pickle. Repeated three times on a stick then dipped in batter, rolled in bread crumbs, and fried until golden brown, this picnic wouldn't be complete without its choice of BBQ sauce, ranch, or honey mustard.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698