Fair Recipes: Celebrating your ancestral roots

Alabama Living Magazine

“Celebrating Your Ancestral Roots” was the theme for the 2023 Alabama Living cooking competition at the Alabama National Fair in October. It was the 9th year the magazine has sponsored a cooking contest at the Montgomery event. Visitors from across central Alabama flock every year to the fair which is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, with proceeds going to charity. Judges were provided by the fair and the Alabama Rural Electric Association, which publishes Alabama Living. The top three winners received a cash prize and the honor of having their recipes published in the December magazine.

First Place 

Lake a Bass Tacos, Creek Indian heritage
Jamie Davis, Tallassee


  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless Lake Martin bass fillets, cut in strips


  • 1 cup White Lily buttermilk cornmeal mix
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup panko
  • 14 warm flour tortillas, sprinkled with Tajin seasoning
  • Peanut oil for frying fish


  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 ripe avocados, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • Fresh lime/cilantro for garnish
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded


  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • Salt to taste

Wash fish in cold water. Put cornmeal, salt and panko into gallon bag; drop fish into bag and shake well. Prepare the oil. Test it for proper temperature by dropping some meal into grease to see if it is ready. Oil should be four inches deep. Fish will float when done, usually in three minutes. While fish fries, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Reserve extra sauce. You can fry your tortillas or serve warmed. Sprinkle with Tajin seasoning. 

To assemble tacos, place two pieces of fish in each tortilla. Top with a bit of shredded cabbage, pico, two slices of avocado, cheese and one tablespoon of sour cream sauce.  Serve warm with lime wedges.

Second Place

“Jolly Ol’ England” Salmon Wellington
Ronald Welch, Wetumpka, Central Alabama EC 


  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin removed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2⁄3 cup cream cheese
  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs 
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 sheet puff pastry

First, make the spinach filling. Melt butter, then sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add spinach and cook just until it starts to wilt. Season with black pepper and add garlic, then cream cheese. After cream cheese melts, add parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Mix everything together and remove from heat.

Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Roll out pastry. Cut into halves or a size to fit fillets with filling. Place each filet in center of pastry and allow two inches on each side of the salmon. If pastry sheet is not big enough, you can roll it out further. Top each filet with spinach mixture, using  a spoon. Brush the edges of the puff pastry with egg wash. Place the salmon on a greased pan or tray lined with parchment paper. Make cross hatches on the top of each Wellington, using a sharp knife. Bake at 390 degrees F. (200 degrees C) for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

Third place

Roosevelt Jr.’s Cameroonian Chops & Rice
Nicole Penn, Eclectic


  • 2 1½ inch thick loin pork chops
  • ½ teaspoon each:
  • All-purpose seasoning
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Sugar
  • Celery seed powder
  • 1/2 cup each:
  • Sliced bell pepper (red & green)
  • Yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 15 ounce package prepared wild rice


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • Pan drippings

Season chops with all-purpose seasoning, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, sugar and celery seed powder. Set aside to marinate for at least two hours. Meanwhile, sauté bell peppers and onions in the first two tablespoons of butter until just cooked through. Set aside to cool. Cook wild rice according to package directions. Mix rice and sauteed veggies in a bowl. Cut slits into sides of pork chops with a sharp paring knife. Stuff pork chops with rice and veggie mixture. Cook in a pretreated air fryer set on 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until desired doneness.

Gravy: Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to a sauce pan and add pork chop drippings. Stir in teaspoon flour, removing any lumps.

Serve chops with gravy and any remaining rice mixture.


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