Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"The Pioneer Woman Cooks" - Simple, Perfect Chili

Date I made this recipe: February 5, 2012 (Super Bowl Sunday)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks – Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond
Published by: William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0-06-165819-8
Recipe: Simple, Perfect Chili – p. 82-83

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and as a lifelong Packers fan, I can’t say I’m all that impressed with today’s teams – the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The Giants, after all, beat my Packers (in one of the most surreal Packers games ever), knocking them out of the playoffs with a huge thud. And yet, I didn’t want the Patriots to win and they did not in fact win and so life was pretty good.

But even though I didn’t give a rip about the game (and to prove it, I watched Law & Order reruns all night!), I do care about celebrating the Super Bowl with “Super Bowl” food and so this chili recipe came in darned handy!

When this cookbook came out a few years ago, I put it on my “Looks Interesting” list and thought it would be a while before I bought it, but a friend of mine got it for me as a hostess gift for my annual holiday party. (Thank you, Nan!). I’m a sucker for a good story and lots of photographs and this had them both.

And then last year, the book was made into a TV show on the Food NetworkThe Pioneer Woman - and now every week or so, I get to see Ree Drummond actually make these delicious recipes.

I should tell you though, that I almost didn’t watch her show. Color me jealous (because I am) but when the Food Network advertised it, they stated that something like millions of people read her blog. What?? I can guarantee that millions of people don’t even know mine exists!

So of course she turned that hit blog into a hit book that is now a hit TV series featuring Ree and her handsome husband, “Marlboro Man,” and her adorable kids and her dogs and her cattle and her second kitchen that she has to drive to in order to get there as it’s in another building on the ranch. My kitchen, although not the smallest I’ve cooked in, is at the back end of my house—no driving needed. During a typical Minnesota winter, this is a good thing! (By the way, my husband's nickname is "Dude" and he is also handsome. He does not however, round up steer for a living.)

So I had every reason not to watch her show, right, except I tuned in to the first episode “just to see” and I actually like it. And when I read that she chose to do her own hair and makeup rather than get up early to have it done for her, I grudgingly decided to keep watching. You’ve got to respect a female television personality who wants to do her own thing!

Out of all the shows that I’ve watched so far, my only complaint is about the last one I viewed on February 4th. Call me crazy, but I do not want to see kids holding up bottles of pond water while she’s trying to make something - ew! (The kids’ science project was to collect water samples.)

And out of all the recipes in this book (complete with step-by-step photo instructions), I had a hard time choosing one as they all looked fantastic. But nothing says “Super Bowl” like a good chili and so that was that!

Ree gives you the option to add beans, jalapenos and tomatoes with chili to the recipe. I used beans (pinto and kidney), skipped the jalapeno and added tomatoes without green chilies since I am a northern Midwestern gal and I don’t “do” tongue-searing food. I’m happy to report that it was all good – every last bite of it!

As for my Packers, they’ll be back. In fact, during the 70’s and 80’s, that was the team mantra: “The Pack Will Be Back!” (True fans know to add the word “someday” to the end of that sentence!)

By the way, Ree met her husband while on a stop home on her way to Chicago where she intended to apply to law school. As a “second-career” attorney who went back to law school after years in the workplace, let me just commend your husband for stopping you from doing something foolish by proposing!. A law degree ain’t cheap and in today’s economic market, it’s hard for many attorneys to find work. But everybody needs cookbooks, right? You done good, Pioneer Woman!

Simple, Perfect Chili – makes 6 servings
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 pounds ground beef
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup masa (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets) (Ann’s note: I got mine at a co-op and measured out only what I needed – sweet!)
Optional ingredients:
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 can diced tomatoes and chilies (the author recommends Rotel brand)
For serving:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped onion

Begin by measuring the spices: chopped garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne and chili powder.

Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook until the beef is brown and then drain. (Ann’s note: I had myself an Oprah “Ah Ha!” moment in the kitchen. I put a colander over an empty pot and threw in all the browned ground beef. Well this was just slick as all get-out and eliminated the need to drain the beef spoonful by spoonful. I am a GENIUS!)

Pour the tomato sauce into the beef mixed, followed by the spices and the salt. Stir together well, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add in ½ cup of water at a time as needed. (Ann’s note: water was needed if I didn’t want to scorch the bottom of my pan!)

After an hour, place the masa in a small bowl, add ½ cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and add more masa paste and/or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor.

Add the beans, jalapeno, and tomatoes if desired. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve with shredded cheddar, chopped onion, and Fritos.

Ree’s Helpful Hint: To freeze the chili, allow it to cool completely, then place it in 1-cup portions in freezer bags. Flatten the bags for easy storage in the freezer.


Anonymous said...

You just posted the chili recipe from Wick Fowler's Chili Kit, the one Ree Drummond copied practically word for word and published without crediting her source.

FYI, the Pioneer Woman is a marketing hoax designed to sell books and advertising for the Food Network. Nothing real about it.

natalie said...

There are many ways to improve your cooking skills: reading great cookbooks, taking cooking classes and good old-fashioned practice in the kitchen are traditional methods. However, these days, online cooking recipe videos are another excellent resource for aspiring chefs. Here is how to get the most from the online healthy recipes and cooking videos you encounter - Gourmet Recipe is the place to find the tastiest, healthiest gourmet recipes. Watch videos of great chefs preparing meals, find easy beginner dishes, and more.