Taste Preview: Fried Pork Wings at the 2012 Big Tex Choice Awards

Fried pork wings with seasoned potato chips (photos by Carol Shih)

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Isaac Rousso, the frying genius behind Big Tex Choice Award finalists deep fried salsa (2011) and deep fried pop tarts (2010), hopes to win this year’s 2012 Big Tex Choice Awards with his gorgeous little food finalist: the deep fried pork wings. “I’ve been a bridesmaid two years, so I’m hoping to actually win this one,” he says. In Rousso’s test kitchen in the back of his Addison office, the Cuban-American man who owns the concessions stand, Taste of Cuba, fries me up some pork wings in two seconds flat, lathers them with a zesty BBQ sauce, and places them on a plate with freshly fried potato chips.

“Whatddya think?” he asks. “Is that money or what?”

Between mouthfuls of fried pork wing, I’m thinking, “HolymotherofStateFair, I can’t stop eating this,” I’m about to bust out of my pants,” and “If I unbutton the top loop of my jeans, will Rousso notice?”

Jump if you like fried stuff.

I’m seriously going to wear a spandex suit to The Dock restaurant on Monday, September 3, when the State Fair people announce the winners of Best Taste and Most Creative for the 2012 Big Tex Choice Awards. Rousso is hoping to nail the Best Taste category, but he’s up against some heavy weight contenders like chicken fried cactus bites (???), fried bacon cinnamon roll (???!), and picnic on a stick (?!?!?).

But Rousso might have a good time at the finals this year. His fried pork wings are tender, juicy, and (the best thing in my opinion is that) they don’t actually taste like they’re fried. It’s a one-hand food that doesn’t make a mess on your hands, it doesn’t fall apart on you, and the BBQ sauce is so good I could drink a cup of it straight up, if that was an acceptable thing to do.

Hundreds and hundreds of hours went into these pork wings. Rousso’s been working on this entry for a little over a year, invited focus groups for tastings, and spent a good portion of his adult life in the test kitchen perfecting the BBQ sauce. If he wins the 2012 Big Tex Choice Award, he gets a trophy and bragging rights, which, in the concessions stand world, is probably the highest honor.

Funnel cake fries at the Taste of Cuba stand.

For 12 tickets at the State Fair, you can get a basket of seasoned chips with one fried pork wing. The wing looks itty bitty in the photos, but it’s actually really filling. Believe me. One pork wing and then, bam! Food coma. But even then, when Rousso placed a bowl of funnel cake fries in front of me, for some reason I couldn’t say no. Those funnel cake fries (offered at the Taste of Cuba stand) are the spawn of Evil, I tell you. They are impossible to stop eating. Topped with powdered sugar and drizzled chocolate (if you want), these fries are perfect for easy sharing and more beignet-y and donut-y than real funnel cakes. Heaven help you if you decide to go after those funnel cake fries and fried pork wings…your jeans will curse the day you were born, but you’ll make Isaac Rousso a very proud fried food daddy.

Isaac Rousso, the fried pork wing guy