Chrissy Teigen entered the food world at the same velocity as she did into our Twitter feeds: in the downstroke of a keyboard with plenty of photos to make it count.
An incarnation of her Instagram account and personal food blog, Teigen’s Cravings cookbook debuted at the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list and still holds up as top-five pick months later. The names of the dishes are edible clickbait — French Toast Casserole with Salted Frosted Flakes; Stretchy Artichoke, Spinach and Buffalo Chicken Dip; John Legend’s Fried Chicken Wings with Honey Butter — but the recipes themselves are packed with the model’s fiery wit that’s normally limited to a scant 140 characters.
“Somewhere out there lies the genius, no-f*cks given human that stared up at the sky one night, wondering why it was socially unacceptable to eat gravy for breakfast. ‘Not anymore,’ he whispered. ‘Not anymore.'”
This is the introduction to her Pull-Apart Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy, and the sensation that you’re feeling is a compulsion to seek out this cookbook immediately.
The Cravings author chatted with Celebuzz in a lofty New York hotel penthouse where a hint of beef chili hung in the air, which I would later learn was stored in Mason jars in the mini fridge like an image out of your midsummer night dreams, and if not yours, certainly Chrissy Teigen’s.
“My love for food is so strong that it’s not just about body nourishment,” says Teigen.
“It’s about enjoying life and enjoying company. We travel so much, we’re always moving and always on the road, so it’s nice to come home and cook for your friends.”
As a true gastronome does, Teigen admits to having food on the mind 24/7. “It’s weird. I wake up thinking about it,” the new mom concedes. But where Garlic-Roasted Bacon and Cacio e Pepe Pasta once held priority, unforeseen snacks now take their place.
“Cookies, lactation cookies are on the mind all the time,” she laughs. “It’s funny when you have an excuse to eat all of that stuff and you’re like, ‘It’s not for me, it’s for the baby!'”
Baby Luna is thriving in her home, surrounded by Teigen’s mother (better known as @pepperthai2) and Teigen’s three dogs with Legend; Penny, Puddy and Pippa. A buxom Puddy (“the old man”) surprised Teigen with his sweet demeanor around the newborn. “He gets right on her boppy and puts his big head down and just watches her. He’s so slow and beautiful and sweet,” she coos. Penny (“the hyper one”) is also “extra-loving,” but the Pippa (“the smart one”) is a little more high-maintenance.
“She knows that someone new has entered our lives,” explains Teigen. “That’s why, if you see my Snapchat, she’s wearing a big pearl necklace now because it makes her feel special. So if you try to take it off her, she’s very jealous again, but with her necklace she’s proud.”
This necklace has since come to pass.
While some mothers are quick to list all of the dos and don’ts to their children as first-time parents, Teigen’s mother took a more passive approach in observing the way she and Legend handle Luna, whose personality Chrissy likens to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Erika Jayne. “[Luna’s] soft-spoken, mild-mannered, she knows how to bring the heat when it’s necessary, but for the most part she knows what to say and what to do at all times,” says the Bravophile, adding, “And she loves older men.”
“She didn’t really give me a ton of advice. I think that’s been the same way with anything growing up,” says Teigen of her mom’s direction. “Obviously, she has advice on things to not do and say, but she’s always kind of let me be myself and fight my own battles.”
“I think that as a child growing up, you can give all of the advice that you want, but they’re going to do what they want to do. I think it’s important for them to learn from their own mistakes and my mom let me do that too.”
But if Teigen had to dish out some words of advice to young fans of her cookbook who were raised in the Instaculture of “thigh gaps” and #goals, her key ingredient to a healthy life would be everything in moderation. “I think that everything is about balance. I’ve never been one to Instagram ‘going hard’ at the gym because, for me, most of my life is in the kitchen,” says the Sports Illustrated model. “For me, if the scale is going to shift one way or another during some points of life, I’m fine with that as long as I have a good time with my friends, and I hope other people think that way too.
“We’re in such a time of the selfie and looking great and sexy all the time. I hope that people know to still find the balance for themselves.”
Teigen has found that balance midway between food and family in the post-pregnancy, post-cookbook era of her life through a partnership with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, which has been a staple in her kitchen over the past decade that she’s spent with Legend. It’s in his chicken and his mac and cheese that took second place to her creamier version in Cravings (“It’ll be in the next [cookbook]”). Teigen uses it now on everything from Oven-Roasted Bacon with Brown Sugar, to beer and fruit.
“Being Asian, we love to sprinkle our fruit and beer with salt,” she shares. “If you sprinkle it on some pineapple or honeydew melon, salt just brings out the best in every fruit. I never cared much for just sweet, but mixing flavors is nice.”
But the addition of Lawry’s on John’s Sweet Potato Wedges gives the recipe a kick that might even surpass Teigen’s beloved McDonald’s hash browns, which made an appearance at her baby shower. “If you get the McDonald’s hash brown at the right time when they’re brand new, then there’s nothing like it,” beams Teigen. “That’s a friggin’ unicorn these days. It’s hard to get a hash brown that’s been made within a couple minutes, but once you get that, there’s nothing better.”
Skip the drive-thru window and make these potatoes with the recipe below instead. Teigen advises that you put the oil on the baking sheet and preheat it in the oven (“get it super, super hot”) and then pour the potatoes on it. “The potatoes stick right to it and it’s super crispy brown once you shake it up,” says the unofficial chef, though “Chef Chrissy” has such a sweet (and savory) ring to it, doesn’t it?
Click on the items below to get the recipes for Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges, John Legend’s Chili, and Legend’s Legendary Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey Butter.
Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Serves 4-6Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
- 2 egg whites 2 teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 ½ pounds smallish sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch thick wedges (6-8 wedges per potato)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Heat the oil on a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven until very hot but not smoking, 9-10 minutes.
During the last couple of minutes of the oil heating, whisk the egg white in a large bowl until fairly stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes (you can use an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment for this, too).
Gently fold in Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, then gently toss the potatoes in the egg white mixture. Remove the tray from the oven and arrange the coated potato wedges on the hot oil, making sure a flat side of each potato is coming on to direct contact with the oil.
Roast until the underside is crispy, 15 minutes. Flip with tongs and toast until the underside is golden, 10-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with additional Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, if desired.
John Legend's Chili
Serves 6 to 8John Legend’s Chili
John Legend's Chili
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Heat a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add the ground beef, onion, mushrooms, seasoned salt, chili powder, and cayenne. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms release their liquid and the meat is no longer pink, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. Add 2 cups water, the tomato sauce, kidney beans, and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chili thickens and the liquid reduces slightly, 35 to 40 minutes. The chili tastes better the longer you let the flavors mingle.
John’s Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey ButterJohn’s Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Butter
John’s Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Butter
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 Seasoned 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
Chrissy Teigen’s Note:
“In the sea of things John does right, his fried chicken is the…I dunno…whatever the king of the sea is. I guess that Little Mermaid guy with the giant fork.
There is nothing in this world I crave more than this eerily simple party staple of ours. Harvesting the crumbs from post-party plates tops the list of things I am not exactly proud of.
I prefer it as little wings and drumettes as I’ve calculated the skin to meat ratio and determined I get more crispy skin by gnawing on the little guys. And then we decided to start drizzling it with Cholula honey butter.
We have problems.”
Brine the Chicken: In a really big pot or a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag, combine 10 cups cold water, the seasoned 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 6inches 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!