Salt-baked chicken and chocolate mousse: What was the best recipe from the year you were born?
Food & Wine magazine is turning 40 this month, and to celebrate, the magazine compiled 40 recipes that have stood the test of time. They call them the best-ever recipes, but they also reflect how food culture and food media have changed over the past four decades.
I was born in 1983, when they featured a salt-baked chicken inspired by a dish from the Hakka region of China. I’ve never had a dish like this, but I can see that it reflected Americans’ love of Chinese cuisine in the 1980s and its budding interest in regionalism, even within what we then called “ethnic food.”
Many of you might have been born before 1978, but I think you’ll still enjoy this list that tracks the evolution of what we’d call American cuisine, which has always been a compendium of global cuisines.
1978 — Jacques Pepin’s Grand Marnier Souffle, an “ethereal recipe” that is “just as good today as it was 40 years ago.” At 82, Pepin has been a longtime contributor to Food & Wine magazine and he is still involved with it today.
1979 — Potato and Egg Pie with Bacon and Creme Fraiche from Andre Soltner, the chef-owner of an upscale Manhattan restaurant, Lutece, which was open for 40 years before closing in 2004.
1980 — Poulet au Vinaigre from the famed French master chef Paul Bocuse, who died earlier this year at 91.
1981 — Soboro Donburi, a Japanese meat-and-rice dish from Elizabeth Andoh, who has lived in Japan since 1967 and written several cookbooks on the cuisine.
1982 — Poached Eggs with Red Wine Sauce, a French spin on an American breakfast from culinary school founder Anne Willan.
1983 — Hakka-style Salt-Baked Chicken, a dish from southeast China in that a whole chicken is baked in a pot of salt.
1984 — Craig Claiborne’s Ultimate Chocolate Mousse from the esteemed New York Times restaurant critic, who took over as the newspaper’s food editor in 1957 and expanded its coverage of chefs and restaurants. He died in 2000.
Before Emeril Lagasse was a TV star, he was the head chef at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, a restaurant that has been open since 1880. In 2000, he invited Julia Child to be a guest on his Food Network TV show. She died in 2004. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)
1985 — Shrimp Creole from Emeril Lagasse, the former Commander’s Palace chef who was not yet a Food Network star when this recipe published.
1986 — Garlicky Braised Lamb Shanks with Sweet Peppers from Jeremiah Tower, the California chef behind Bay-area restaurants Chez Panisse and Stars, where he served this dish. Tower, Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck are credited with establishing and popularizing California cuisine.
1987 — Deep Dish All American Cinnamon Apple Pie from baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum, who macerates the apples in sugar before making a syrup from the apple liquid that releases from the fruit.
1988 — Grilled Korean-Style Short Ribs from Linda Burum and Linda Merinoff, Los Angeles food writers who shared this recipe with Food & Wine readers, most of whom weren’t yet hip to Korean cuisine.
1989 — Sizzling Pancakes, a savory Vietnamese pancake the Connecticut-based chef Binh Duong.
1990 — Baked Goat Cheese Salad, Alice Waters’ iconic salad from Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
1991 — Mom’s Citrus Meringue Pie from African-American foodways historian Jessica B. Harris.
1992 — Seared Salmon with Summer Vegetables from Michael Romano, the chef behind Union Square Cafe in New York City.
1993 — Swordfish Sicilian-Style from Marcella Hazan, the legendary Italian cookbook author who was a Food & Wine contributor in the 1990s.
1994 — Julia Child’s Ham Steaks in Maderia Sauce, a recipe that celebrated the humble cut of pork that America’s best-known food personality called a “fast entree for fancy people.”
1995 — Jerk Chicken from Paul Chung, a “self-taught cook of Chinese-Jamaican descent who worked in the Food & Wine mail room.”
1996 — Vegetable Hot-and-Sour Soup from Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, a columnist who covered low-fat cooking for the magazine during the height of the low-fat diet era.
1997 — Catalan Tomato Bread, a Spanish recipe from cookbook author and TV host Steven Raichlen, who continues to write grilling books today.
1998 — Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken from Charles Phan, chef/owner of The Slanted Door in San Francisco, who said this was one of his favorite (and easiest) dishes to make at home.
1999 — Pizza with Smoked Salmon, Creme Fraiche and Caviar, a very Wolfgang Puck recipe from the Austrian-born, California chef who became known as the Oscars chef.
2000 — Fried Chicken with Tomato Gravy and the Best Biscuits from the legendary Southern chef Edna Lewis, who died in 2006, and her longtime assistant Scott Peacock.
2001 — Shrimp and Corn Chowder from Ecuadorian chef Maricel Presilla, who continues to run a restaurant in New Jersey called Zafra.
2002 — Pasta with Sausage, Mustard and Basil from British cookbook author Nigel Slater.
2003 — Chicken Tikka Masala, “the perfect gateway dish to Indian cooking” from Grace Parisi, a Food & Wine recipe developer.
2004 — Breton Butter Cake, a spin on the famed french pastry kouign-amann from cookbook authors Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford.
2005 — Antipasto Salad with Green Olive Tapenade, a recipe from former Best New Chef winner Nancy Silverton.
2006 — Crispy Okra Salad, which calls for thinly sliced strips of okra, a technique from Indian chef Suvir Saran.
2007 — Pan-Roasted Salmon with Tomato Vinaigrette, a “Queer Eye”-worthy dish from “Chopped” host Ted Allen, who was on the original season of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
2008 — Tiki Snack Mix, a nod to the revived tiki cocktail movement, from Food & Wine recipe developer Melissa Rubel Jacobson.
2009 — Kogi Dogs from Roy Choi, the Los Angeles-based chef who got his start in a food trailer and was the first to win a Best New Chef award without running a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
2010 — Mom’s Chocolate Cake, a moist layer cake whose recipe had been passed down through several generations and ultimately landed in the lands of longtime Food & Wine test kitchen supervisor Marcia Kiesel.
2011 — Kimchi Creamed Collard Greens from Hugh Acheson, the Georgia-based chef who in 2002 was named a Best New Chef for the magazine and has since appeared as a judge on “Top Chef.”
2012 — Baltimore-Style Crab Cakes, a recipe from TV host Andrew Zimmern that has become the most popular dish on Food & Wine’s website since it was published six years ago.
2013 — Farro and Green Olive Salad with Walnuts and Raisins from Heidi Swanson, one of the early food bloggers who turned her website, 101 Cookbooks, into a thriving food writing career.
2014 — Almost-Instant Soft Serve, a recipe from Justin Chapple, who oversees the magazine’s Mad Genius series, which includes videos and articles about smart food hacks.
2015 — Spaghetti with Clams and Braised Greens, a new spin on an old classic from Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner in North Carolina.
2016 — Tomatoes with Herbs and Almond Vinaigrette, whose dressing from Dan Kluger of New York City’s Loring Place is what caught the eye of Food & Wine editors.
2017 — Chickpea and Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce, another new spin on an old classic, this time from Missy Robbins, a former Best New Chef winner known for her restaurant, Lilia.
2018 — Miznon’s Whole Roasted Cauliflower, the signature dish at Eyal Shani’s restaurants from Tel Aviv to Melbourne and now New York City.