Beef and pork rank high despite catchy marketing slogans

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2003

Just why dairy cows are out begging folks to "Eat more chikin" no one is quite sure. Maybe it's because the black-and-white Holsteins look better on billboards than any of the members of the BeefSteak Gang so they can better "steer" folks toward chickens.

But no matter the reason, the sad-eyed Holsteins haven't been able to herd beef lovers away from the trough. Beef continues to be a favorite among meat lovers. Beef is delicious and nutritious - no matter what Daisy Cow says. And, the little piggy still goes to the market and out through the checkout counter at a steady pace.

Meats - including chicken and fish - are devoured at a rapid, daily rate. Americans eat more beef, pork and chicken than they do beans and greens combined. And, cooks are continually finding more ways to put meats on the table.

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The Alabama Farmers Federation hosts annual cook-off contests so that culinary queens and kings can show off their talents. The Heritage and Pork Cook-off were held Aug. 7 in Montgomery and winners were selected in very close contests.

Creative cooks from Dale and Franklin counties took to honors.

Frankie Davis of Dale County claimed first place in the Heritage Cooking Contest, which is sponsored by the Federation's Women's Division.

Davis took top honors with a zesty Mexican dish she calls "Fiesta." Davis said when she first made the dish, her husband wouldn't even try it. Now, it's a family favorite.

Each year the Heritage Cooking Contest features an Alabama-grown commodity. This year's theme was beef. Ashley Davis, director of the Women's Division, said the contest helps promote the use of Alabama agricultural products in delicious and creative ways.

"Agriculture is Alabama's largest industry and our farmers produce a wide variety of delicious foods," Davis said. "The contest allows us to showcase our state's bounty while recognizing some of our outstanding cooks.

In addition to the Heritage Cooking Contest, the Alabama Pork Producers division of the Federation also held its Pork Cook-off with Annette Sturdivant of Franklin County took top prize in the cook-off with her Pork Chops and Rice Skillet Meal.

Sturdivant said she created the recipe from scratch by combining different flavors she enjoys into one dish.

Herbed Pork Chops

4 pork loin chops, 3/4-inch thick

1 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing

4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (chives, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary – any combination)

Place chops resealable plastic bag. Add dressing and herbs; seal and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours. Remove chops from marinade; discard marinade. Grill chops over medium-high heat (or broil 4 inches from heat) for 8 to 10 minutes, turning once.

Serves 4. Food Exchanges: 3 lean meat

Glazed Ham with Pecan Crust

1 10-pound cooked ham, bone in

2 cups apple cider

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Insert meat thermometer into center of ham without touching bone. Place ham in baking dish and pour cider over. Roast in oven, basting with cider every 30 minutes for a total cooking time of 2 to 2 1/2 hours (12 to 15 minutes per pound), or until thermometer registers 140 degrees. Meanwhile, in bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard and pecans. Remove ham from oven during the last 40 minutes and firmly pat the sugar pecan mixture all over the ham. Return to oven and continue roasting until crust is brown and ham is done. Slice and serve with sauce. Some of the topping falls into the sauce, making it the perfect accompaniment to ham. Makes 20 to 25 servings.

Grilled Honey-Soy Pork Steaks

2 pork blade steaks, cut 1-inch thick

2 small cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

Combine all ingredients in a self-sealing plastic bag; seal bag and place in refrigerator 4-24 hours. Remove steaks from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill over medium-hot coals, 7 minutes per side, turning once. Serves 4.