Heritage recipes take top prizes at fair

Alabama Living Magazine
From left, Mary Lyons, Fair President Scott Williams, Nicole Penn, Joseph Goins and Alabama Living Editor Lenore Vickrey. Photos by Danny Weston

Alabama Living once again sponsored a cooking competition at the Alabama National Fair in October, marking the 8th year the magazine has helped judge the annual contest in the fair’s Creative Living Center. The fair, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery, draws thousands of visitors from across central Alabama. This year’s cooking contest theme was a new one, “What’s Your Heritage?” and drew recipes reflecting the background of the entrants. This year’s winners included cuisine from Native American culture, West Africa and Ireland. The winners received a cash prize and special gift from Alabama Living.

First Place, Indian Tacos with Indian Fry Bread

Joseph Goins, Montgomery

Bread ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups oil for frying


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 15-ounce can chili beans
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups iceberg lettuce
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • Picante sauce or taco sauce
  • Sour cream
  • Tomatoes, chopped

In a large skillet, cook the meat with taco seasoning over medium  heat. Once meat is browned, pour off fat but leave a little bit. Turn burner down and add beans. Cook until the mixture is warmed through. Cover and keep warm while making bread.

Bread: In a medium bowl, stir together the first four ingredients and mix well. Stir in milk and mix until the dough comes together. You may need more flour to handle the dough. Knead the dough until smooth on a lightly floured surface. Let rest for five minutes.

Heat oil in a large, deep heavy skillet to 365 degrees. Oil should be at least 1 ½ inches deep. Cut dough into 4 to 5 equal parts and flatten each part out into a thin circle. Fry breads in hot oil until golden on both sides, turning only one time. Drain on paper towel. 

Top each bread with meat mixture and add toppings of choice.

Second Place, West African ‘Mock’ Oxtails

Nicole Penn, Eclectic

  • 6 to 8 pieces of chicken
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 cups chopped red, green & yellow bell peppers
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups prepared mashed potatoes, or starch of your choice

Rinse and pat dry chicken pieces. Place in a Ziploc bag. Add the next six ingredients and seal bag. Shake to coat chicken. Marinate for one to 24 hours if desired. Pour chicken into crockpot and add chopped peppers and sliced onion. Drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat. Cook on high for 4 hours or until chicken is tender. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Third Place, Luck of the Irish Cottage Pie

Mary Lyons, Tallassee

  • ½ large cabbage, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups fresh cut corn
  • 6 large potatoes, cut and diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 green bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 cans crescent rolls
  • 1 egg white for wash
  • 1 large can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package brown gravy mix
  • 1 package of stew beef
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Cut and dice potatoes and cook on stove top until tender. Cook fresh cut corn on stove top on medium for 30 minutes. Set aside. In a large pot, sauté onion and bell pepper until onion is transparent, then add stew beef. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, then add water, brown gravy mix and cream of mushroom soup. Continue to cook on medium, stirring often. 

Cook cabbage in pot on stove top with butter. Add balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley and pepper. Stir well. Continue to stir until cabbage is soft and transparent. Spray the bottom of your baking dish with Pam cooking spray. Roll out one can of crescent rolls and place on bottom of the dish. Add potatoes and corn, then cabbage, then meat mixture with mushroom soup on top of cabbage. Add second can of crescent rolls on top in single layer. Brush on egg white wash. Bake at 360 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Sprinkle black pepper on top.


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