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September 02, 2004   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
September 02, 2004

Winners in the Heritage Cooking Contest are, from left, first-place winner Mindy Luker of Talladega County, second-place winner Joy Elliott of Escambia County and third-place winner Dora Rider of Monroe County.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A low-fat, easy-to-prepare curried chicken recipe won Mindy Luker of Talladega County top honors and $150 in the Alabama Farmers Federation's Heritage Cooking Contest Sept. 2 in Montgomery.

The Heritage Cooking Contest is sponsored each year by the Federation's Women's Division as a way to promote the creative use of Alabama agricultural products in nutritious meals. This year's theme ingredient was chicken.

Luker, who farms with her husband Bob, said she came up with the Curried Chicken recipe because she was looking for a fast, low-fat, one-dish meal.

"Bob works hard on the farm, and he often gets home late from working. This is a healthy dish that I can prepare quickly, and it's lower in fat that a lot of recipes," she said.

Joy Elliott of Escambia County placed second and received $100 for her Good-To-Go Grilled Chicken Veggie Salad, and Dora Rider of Monroe County took home third-place honors and $75 for her Baja Chicken Salad with Taco Vinaigrette. The winners qualified to compete in the statewide cooking contest by placing first in their county competitions.

Poultry is Alabama's top agricultural commodity in terms of cash receipts, and the state ranks third nationally in broiler production. Below are the winning recipes, all of which highlight this important Alabama farm product.

Curried Chicken -- First Place
Mindy Luker, Talladega County

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 very thinly sliced onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped apple (1 large apple)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups hot cooked rice
Chutney, raisins, coconut and peanuts (optional)

Heat oil in large skillet. Stir in curry powder. Add chicken. Cook and stir until chicken is browned. Slowly add broth, celery, onion, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add apples, cover and cook 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water. Add to skillet stirring until thickened. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Serve with rice and, if desired, chutney, fruit or nuts. Makes 4 servings.

Good-To-Go Grilled Chicken Veggie Salad -- Second Place
Joy Elliott, Escambia County

3 cups fresh broccoli flowerets
3 cups fresh cauliflower flowerets
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups grilled chicken, chopped
1 cup Italian (regular or low fat) dressing

Mix all ingredients well, cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Toss well before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

Baja Chicken Salad with Taco Vinaigrette -- Third Place
Dora Rider, Monroe County

1 envelope (1.25 ounces) Old El Paso® taco seasoning mix
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (10 oz.) package mixed salad greens or baby greens
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup sliced red onion
2/3 cup shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend
1/3 cup sour cream
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
Blue tortilla chips

In medium bowl, combine taco seasoning mix, brown sugar, 1/2 cup oil and vinegar; mix well. Place chicken in shallow medium bowl. Pour 1/2 cup seasoning mixture over chicken. Reserve remaining mixture for dressing. Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. With slotted spoon, remove chicken from seasoning mixture; discard marinade. Add chicken to skillet; cook and stir 5 minutes or until no longer pink in center. In large bowl, combine mixed greens, tomatoes and onion. Add reserved seasoning mixture; toss to coat. Arrange salad mixture on serving platter. Top with chicken, cheese, sour cream, avocado and olives. Arrange tortilla chips around salad. Makes 6 servings.

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