This morning, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for the 2012 James Beard Awards. As if New Orleans didn't have enough to celebrate today with Mardi Gras raging through town, one of the nominees for the esteemed Outstanding Chef category is NOLA's Donald Link of Herbsaint and Cochon. For our Chef Recipes Made Easy column, Link shared this spiced Crispy Chicken Leg Confit, which F&W simplifies by cooking the meat in pantry-ready olive oil as opposed to duck fat. If you season the chicken tonight, you can bake it for a flavorful weeknight meal tomorrow.
In New Orleans on Tuesday, revelers will celebrate Mardi Gras with wild parades, never-ending parties and delicious Cajun and Creole food. Home cooks can take part in the holiday by making Chicken-and-Okra Gumbo. This simplified version of the intensely flavorful stew uses precooked rotisserie chicken, canned stock and easy-to-find Cajun seasoning.
Experts at New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute announced that a variety of chile known as the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion is the hottest chile pepper in the world. It's the fieriest among a class of peppers so spicy that their heat-creating capsaicin compounds permeated scientists' latex gloves during harvesting. True heat enthusiasts will soon be placing orders for hot sauces made from the ultra-spicy chile, but the rest of us can stick with just-spicy-enough jalapeños. Used fresh in Charles Phan’s Spicy Lemongrass Chicken, jalapeños add bite and desirable heat to this incredibly flavorful and superfast wok dish.
© Tina Rupp
Green Chicken Masala.
© John Kernick
Kung Pao Drumsticks
While we know you're consumed by our inaugural race to name the People's Best New Pastry Chef in America (vote here through February 14!), music aficionados will tune in to another competition this Sunday: the Grammy Awards. These party-friendly Kung Pao Chicken Drumsticks are Grammy Award–winning rapper Ludacris’s favorite dish from his Atlanta restaurant, Straits. Though his restaurant recently closed, the Szechuan-inspired dish is still a hot take-away. "The sauce is so well-spiced, and the meat just falls off the bone," Ludacris says.
© Lucy Schaeffer
Sauteed Chicken Breasts
According to Chris Kilham, Fox News' “Medicine Hunter,” the onion is much more than a kitchen staple. The underappreciated superfood deserves to be ranked with powerhouse foods like pomegranates and green tea, as onions help boost immunity, protect against heart disease and even have anticarcinogenic properties. While eating a raw onion every day is the most efficient way to benefit from the vegetable's healthful properties, it’s not the most appealing. Instead, take a suggestion from Melissa Rubel Jacobson, who uses diced onions in this fast recipe for Chicken Breasts with Apricot-Onion Pan Sauce.
© Fredrika Stjärne
Confit of Guinea Hen Legs
The results are in: The Art of Living According to Joe Beef won Food52’s third annual Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks. In the site’s final round of bracket-style cookbook competition, guest judge Alice Waters chose Beef over Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. Despite her disappointment over the high fat content in many of the buzzy Montreal restaurant’s recipes, the produce-championing Waters loved the book’s idiosyncratic stories, unconventional layout and pervasive “deep love of Montreal.” Joe Beef chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan shared some of their fantastic French-Canadian recipes with F&W a few months ago, including this indulgent Confit of Guinea Hen Legs with Prunes and Honey. The recipe is enriched with rendered duck fat, and best served with an Alice Waters–friendly watercress salad.
© Lucy Schaeffer
Many of the most popular Chinese dishes in the US are Americanized—no bones, no feet, no serious spice. But as cities like Beijing become more international, take-out favorites like General Tso’s chicken, chop suey and fortune cookies are winning favor in the country that inspired them, Newsweek reports. One of our favorite Chinese-American dishes is sesame chicken. Ready in just 35 minutes, Marcia Kiesel’s version of the sweet-and-crispy chicken is coated with a spicy ginger-garlic sauce and mixed with a healthy serving of broccoli.
© Stephanie Meyer
One-Pot Sticky Wings
In a featured recipe from F&W’s weekly series Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures, the TV chef describes a walk along Penang’s New Lane as the “single greatest street-food stroll in the world.” Some of his favorites stalls sell glazed chicken wings and quarters, which inspired Zimmern’s One-Pot Sticky Chicken Wings. The wings and sauce cook together so that fat from the chicken enriches its glaze. The end result: exotic, finger-licking-worthy chicken wings and only one pot to clean.
© Quentin Bacon
At Carmel Valley Ranch, active guests partake in hilltop yoga, nature hikes and even beekeeping. The resort then uses honey from the ranch’s hives in spa treatments, cocktails and recipes like these Honey-Chile Chicken Wings. Prep doesn't require a bee-proof suit or a trip to California. The sweet-spicy Super Bowl snack will come together with just a few pantry ingredients, some good honey and an oven; chef Tim Wood crisps the skin using a broiler.
Tune in on Wednesdays at 10PM ET for Top Chef: Boston, the 12th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.