Yesterday, I saw the future of Texas chefdom. I was blown away. The occasion was the final cook-off for the $15,000 Stephan Pyles Culinary Scholarship, which is named for the famous Dallas chef and awarded through the auspices of the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas. The finalists, three culinary students (all looking about 15 but probably in their twenties), each cooked a three-course menu for four judges and we selected the winner. I’m here to tell you that all of them–two women, one man–were top-notch. But there can be only one blue ribbon, and it went to Amol Thanky, a student at the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin. Here’s one of his three prize-winning recipes (note–I haven’t home-tested this; you’re on your own).
3 ripe peaches, blanched and peeled
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 canned chipotle (reserve 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce the chiles come in)
squeeze lime juice
salt to taste
Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add peaches, sugar, and honey and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about an hour, or until peaches are completely soft and syrup is thick. Add chipotle and simmer another 3 to 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer; discard chipotle. Season to taste with lime juice, salt, and reserved adobo. Cool.
5 quail, boned
salt to taste
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Tuck each quail’s wingtips under to prevent burning, and–making a small slit in one leg–slide the other leg bone through to truss the bird. Season with salt and sear in peanut oil until golden brown.
Place quails on rack, brush liberally with peach-chipotle glaze (previous recipe), and broil until glaze starts to caramelize. Remove, brush with glaze again, and broil until golden brown. Let rest, loosely covered in foil, for 5 to 10 minutes. Serves 5.