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Cookbook Review: Being In The Kitchen With Chrissy Teigen Is A Blast

Been spending a lot of quality time in the kitchen with Chrissy Teigen. Not the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who's got a hot bod, but is beloved by billions because she loves to eat. Make that she LOVES to eat. Like if food was a guy, she'd make out with it. No, I've been spending time in the kitchen with Cravings, Chrissy's new, red-hot bestselling cookbook, having a ton of fun.

Chrissy's chicken wings by photo by Aubrey Pick

Chrissy's wings are legit. Photo by Aubrey Pick, with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

The Chrissy faithful know their favorite cutie pie goes for the BIG flavors, and shares her journey on her crazy popular blog, DeLUSHious. She's into fiery spice and loads of garlic, so if that's not your cup of Earl Grey, you might as well skip Cravings. Don't go looking for a chapter on desserts. She'd rather eat savory than get weighed down with sweets. And though this collection of "recipes for all the food you want to eat" isn't exactly breaking any new ground -- does the world really need another mac'n'cheese recipe? -- there are a few outstandingly unique exceptions. Like the awesome Thai recipes from Chrissy's mom, Pepper, who grew up in Thailand. I've got to admit I was skeptical when I first thumbed through the pages, gorgeously photographed by Aubrie Pick, and found images of CT chowing down with gusto, often joined by her handsome husband, John Legend. I'm not the first to wonder if she's legit. But after making and devouring a pile of John's Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Butter, I was hooked.

Every recipe I've cooked has been so, so good, from the Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Peas in the chapter called "Things That Intimidate People But Shouldn't" to the golden, puffy Dutch Baby from the opening "Breakfast All Day" section. (Though I'm still not sold on drenching that Baby in Mrs. Butterworth. Sure, it tastes like childhood, but the main ingredient remains high fructose corn syrup.) Beyond the flat-out fab food I've made, I'm impressed by the sassy, conversational style that makes Cravings such a fun read. Written with Adeena Sussman and edited by the respected food journalist Francis Lam, the pages turn easily from the intro ("The kitchen is a place I know well. It's my favorite room wherever I am living and it got to be completely open and social. Our kitchen has seen way more activity than our hot tub or sex dungeon. The kitchen is the heart of any home. And my heart is in the kitchen.") to the notes that set up each recipe. When Chrissy says you better use Cholula pepper sauce on those hot wings, listen up. No joke, this is the most entertaining cookbook I've cooked from in a long time.

Here's the lowdown of the Cravings dish that turned this skeptic into a believer.

John's Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Butter

I'm a straight-up fried chicken snob after living in the South and learning to fry the bird from some of the best in the fried chicken bidness. My chicken part of choice to hit the hot grease is the drumstick, so I've never tackled wings. These are brined in seasoning salt and dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried, but it's the final step in the spicy honey butter that makes these wings soar. Be careful, these are highly addictive. I wish I had some right now, and that I was sitting by the pool in the California sunshine polishing off a plate full. Here's the recipe. Try it!

Serves 8 TO 10

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 4 hours 45 minutes

for the CHICKEN AND BRINE

6 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

2 1⁄2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

5 pounds chicken wings and drumettes

for the BREADING AND FRYING

Canola oil, for deep-frying

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoning Salt

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

for the SPICY HONEY BUTTER

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 tablespoons Cholula hot sauce (sorry, it has to be Cholula)

2 tablespoons honey

3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

special EQUIPMENT

Deep-fry or candy thermometer

BRINE THE CHICKEN: In a really big pot or a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag, combine 10 cups cold water, the seasoning salt, garlic powder, and cayenne. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24.

BREAD AND FRY THE CHICKEN: Fill a soup pot with 6 inches of oil, making sure there are at least 4 inches of clearance between the oil and the lip of the pot. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 365°F on a deep-fry thermometer, or prepare a deep fryer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

In a big bowl, combine the flour, seasoning salt, and cayenne. A few at a time, remove the wings from the brine and toss them in the flour mixture until coated really well, then place on a baking sheet while you coat the rest.

When the oil is ready, turn the heat up to medium-high and carefully slip in the wings, adding just enough so that there’s still plenty of space around each wing. (If it feels safer, use tongs to add the wings; whatever you do, don’t just drop them in! Splashing hot oil is bad.) Fry the wings until golden and crispy, about 13 minutes per batch. Drain the wings on plenty of paper towels. Fry the remaining chicken, letting the oil come back to temperature between batches.

MAKE THE SPICY HONEY BUTTER: While the chicken is frying, in a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, Cholula, honey, and salt until incorporated. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Slather the wings with the spicy honey butter and eat that chaacken!

Oh, I did. And I was so pumped about how that and a few other dishes turned out, I decided to share the big flavors with my friends at Allrecipes, making a fun feast better known as the Frito Pie Bar in our Kitchen. Read how it turned out in this post.

Find more stories like this on Allrecipes' Dish.

About Leslie Kelly

Always hungry to learn, never had my fill of oysters, Memphis dry rub ribs, wild salmon, chocolate chip cookies or a well-rolled lumpia. Washington state wine lover, bourbon fan. Totally obsessed with brunch!