Challenge Accepted: January Cover Recipe Challenge

I am very excited to announce that I have accepted an awesome challenge! I have teamed up with a few food bloggers including Aimee from and Jasmine from and decided to attempt to cook and EAT every cover recipe of Food and Wine Magazine for 2013! This is not a new challenge to my fellow bloggers, as they are both veterans when it comes to experimenting with the cover issues of F&W and I discovered their awesome voyage through my exploration of other culinary reporting. The Recipe Cover Challenge is to make, eat, and write about the recipes that are on F&W’s cover for every month of the year, and I am so excited to take on this challenge!  Every month I will be feeding my lucky (or unlucky!) friends and family awesome dishes and discussing the readability, ease, and deliciousness of all of the recipes and reporting the results right here on The Food Girl in Town! With the help of other food bloggers and my trusty F&W 2013 wine guide, I hope to show you all the pitfalls and palatable pleasures that will lead me through all the months of the year! HERE WE GO!

JANUARY COVER RECIPE: Spice-Rubbed Chicken with Two Sauces, Wasakaka and Piri Piri Sauce

Rating: 4 out of 5 

The Test:

Last evening I was lucky enough to try out the first month of recipes on my boyfriend Adam, my friend and co-worker Erin, and her boyfriend Matt. Erin was awesome enough to come to the grocery store with me to gather all the ingredients and start the cooking early in the afternoon because I wasn’t sure about the timing of all the dishes that we were going to be making! In addition to the cover recipe chicken, I was also attempting a new recipe that I found in the pages of January’s F&W: Fingerling Papas Bravas with Smoky Ailoi (p.47), as well as grilled red peppers with rosemary, and classic cornbread from

Erin and I started my epic cooking endeavour with a celebratory beer and started with our prep of the inaugural Recipe Cover Challenge meal.


To begin our preparation we started with the rub for the chicken to ensure that we got it into the oven in a timely manner. The rub was SUPER easy to make, and once the chicken was massaged and tied appropriately, we could pretty much forget about it in our 400 degree oven.


The next step was making the two sauces to accompany the roasted chicken. Erin and I started by first prepping all of the ingredients, of which there were a lot, and of course involved a lot of chopping and dicing. By this time Adam had also arrived home from school and was “helping” us in the kitchen.


We made the Wasakaka sauce first, which was fairly easy and involved little cooking time. It was a matter of simply boiling some water and lime juice and then combining the rest of the ingredients and setting it aside. The second sauce, Piri Piri, involved a little more effort, but was still fairly easy to complete, and smelled AMAZING when it came out of the blender. Erin taught me a very useful tip for chopping onions, which I have always struggled with, holding back tears with every chop of the knife. She instructed me to wear sunglasses while I chopped onions in order not to cry, also including the disclaimer that regular glasses would not work. So naturally, I tried out her theory, and not only did it stop my onion tears, but also made me look very cool in the kitchen.


While I started to prepare the Papas Bravas and the accompanying aioli, I put Erin in charge of making the Cornbread and out kitchen party went into full swing with the arrival of Matt. The recipe and ingredients for the potatoes were harmless, though I was a little nervous about heating up two inches of vegetable oil in my skillet and letting it reach a temperature of 350 degrees. Fat fire fears induced by a selection of horrifying videos shown to me by firemen during school presentations in my youth made this act something to overcome, but once I had the first batch of fingerling potatoes bubbling in the pan, my fears evaporated as their smell filled the room!


The potatoes were fairly easy to make, although I did find the recipe a little hard to follow because it jumped back and forth between directions for the potatoes and the aioli. A separate list of instructions for the potatoes and for the aioli would have been much more useful. I enlisted Adam to prepare the red peppers with rosemary, as they are a staple side dish in our house and we were almost ready to eat!


The Results:

The Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken turned out perfectly! This dish was very low maintenance during the cooking process and tasted even better than it smelled. We all agreed that this was a delicious and easy chicken recipe that can be done even on a weeknight as the rub is very easy to make.


The sauces on the other hand were a different matter. Though I think that the sauces were both delicious, it did seem a little over the top to include two. When I first read the recipe I was excited to have the choice of two sauces, but in the end, it added about 30 minutes of prep time to something that wasn’t really needed in the first place. The Piri Piri was the clear crowd favourite as we all devoured the chicken smothered in this sauce.The paprika and chilies added the perfect amount of smoky heat that envelopped whatever it covered, and there was very little left over at the end of the meal.


Though everyone agreed that the Wasakaka sauce was delicious and fresh tasting, it did not please the table as much as its opponent. The freshness of the zest and aroma of the fennel seed were dominant and delicious, however, while it looked delightful, it did not live up to my expectations.


The potatoes were a big hit!!! Chef David Mawhinney’s Papas Bravas were delicious and simple and everyone at the table had seconds, and thirds… I think I had fourths. The fingerling potatoes were easy to fry and after overcoming my fat fire fears, I will most definetely be making these starchy sidekicks again in the near future.


However, the accompanying aioli left a lot to be desired. Although we all enjoyed the smoky paprika taste of the sauce, especially Matt, the sauce never did reach the consistency that was needed to make this condiment truly great. Though it must be said that this is probably not the fault of the recipe or its creator, it was not great and despite the fact that we all took turns whisking it, there was a lot left over at the end of the meal.

The cornbread was also a big hit with our fabulous foursome. Erin did an awesome job making the classic recipe perfectly, and we all enjoyed the comforting and rich flavours of the fluffy accompaniment. Very few things taste better than warm cornbread with butter.


The Wine:

This evening, I chose two different wines to accompany the meal. Other than the few local brews we had while preparing the meal, we started off with Fuzion Brut from Argentina. The Papas Bravas recipe suggested a green apple sparkling, 2009 Raventos i Blanc Brut L’Hereu, unfortunately it was not available at the NSLC. The Fuzion was fruity and vibrant and did make a good pairing with the lemon and rosemary in the roasted chicken, as well as the fried potatoes.


 I went with a Chardonnay for our second selection and went with the wine suggested on the recipe for the roasted chicken. The 2010 Louis Latour was perfect with the chicken and complimented the rest of the meal accordingly; it was by far my favourite over the Fuzion. I rarely select Latour for myself these days, but am always reminded how good it is when I drink it; this wine will probably be purchased again in the near future.


Overall I thought that the evening was a huge success. The cover recipe went off without a hitch, and though some of the accoutrements were not praised by all, everyone was pleased with the meal. There were very few leftovers at the end of the meal, which I always consider a compliment, and after a night full of food, friends and merriment I am so excited that I accepted this challenge.


I am so excited to join Jasmine and Aimee for the Recipe Cover Challenge for 2013 and cannot wait to Explore. Eat. Repeat my way through many delicious recipes in the months to come! Wish me luck!

*The Food & Wine Magazine Cover Recipe Challenge was created by as a means of expanding culinary talents and tackling new and exciting cuisine. Want to join in on the fun? We’d love the company! Pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send an email to with a link to your blog post.

*The mission of Food & Wine Magazine is to find the most exciting places, new experiences, emerging trends and sensations in the culinary and wine industries. From travel and entertaining to luxury and design, this magazine brings an energetic and stylish take on food and wine. For more information on Food & Wine Magazine, please visit

7 thoughts on “Challenge Accepted: January Cover Recipe Challenge”

  • Your chicken looks awesome Gabby! I too am loving periperi at the moment. Another tip for onions: keep ’em in the fridge. Essentially, the thing in onions that makes you cry is in between the layers & it’s released when chopped. When cold, it takes longer for the chemical to disperse. Works for me every time! 🙂

  • First of all…WELCOME Gabby! Love, love, LOVE that you are joining in on the F&W cover recipe challenge 🙂 Your post is fantastic, love the side dish choices and glad the chicken turned out to be a hit at your dinner party! The two sauces were a bit much…both really good and so different, but quite a bit of prep involved. Can’t wait for next month’s cover!

  • Gabby! Welcome to the challenge! I’m so glad you decided to join us. I loved your first post: Thoughtful, informative, AND entertaining. Must try this sunglasses trick 😉 also loved the assortment of sides you came up with.

    We’ll have to get together for one of the upcoming covers! I have a bad habit of making twitter food friends my real life friends. You’ve been warned. Just ask Kathy Jollimore 🙂

  • Gabby! Welcome to the challenge! Thrilled you have joined us and loved your first post: thoughtful, informative, AND entertaining. Must try this sunglasses trick! 😉 great assortment of sides, too.

    We’ll have to get together for an upcoming cover challenge! I have a bad habit of making my twitter food friends my real life friends. You’ve been warned. Just ask Kathy Jollimore! 🙂

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