By Marlee Moore
A recipe that sprang into Rhonda Hughes’ mind in the wee hours of the night scored her first place in the Alabama Farmers Federation slider-themed Heritage Cooking Contest Sept. 8.
“When you think of sliders, you think hot,” said Hughes, who farms in Jefferson County. “I tried for months to create a hot slider that was good after being cooked, transported and eaten hours later.”
Instead, the night before her county’s cooking contest, she was inspired to create best-at-room-temperature Cranberry Orange Sliders, which are deftly layered with ham, turkey, bacon, Swiss and cheddar cheeses, cranberry sauce and orange marmalade.
“It’s based on mine and my mother’s favorite club sandwich at McAlister’s Deli,” Hughes said. “This recipe is because of Mother. She is my inspiration.”
Hughes received $150 from the Federation’s Women’s Leadership Division, along with bragging rights. Jane Elliott of Chambers County earned second place and $100 for Orange Chicken Sliders, while Lawrence County’s Sandra Terry notched third place and $50 for Easy Philly Sliders.
While the judges sampled sliders, private chef Jonathan Harrison entertained the audience with stories from his time on the TV show, “Next Level Chef.”
Afterward, a round of applause and cheers echoed through the Federation’s Montgomery home office reception room when the winners were announced.
“It is an inspiration to see women supporting women,” said Federation Women’s Leadership Division Director Kim Earwood. “All 26 of our competitors brought their A-game to the state contest, and our judges had a tough decision to make. You can bet our participants will use ideas they gained from each other back home as they feed their loved ones at potlucks, tailgates and family dinners.”