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Cook the Book: Simple, Perfect Chili

I have spent a happy, happy week cooking from Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Drummond has become a welcome and very pleasant presence in my house, especially when meal times roll around. Every single recipe that I have tested this week was not only incredibly delicious but very plentiful. The developed her recipes to feed a family of five and some hungry ranch hands, but my two-person household hasn't been this well fed in a while. The question of what's for dinner has turned into more of a what's not for dinner.

I made Simple, Perfect Chili a few nights ago—it's been feeding us ever since, and it only gets better. I made the chili using all of the optional ingredients listed in the recipe, but upon tasting it before putting in the beans, tomatoes, and jalapeƱo, I found that these ingredients are not really necessary. They do their part to bulk up the portion size, and add different textural components, but the all-meat chili is spectacular, possessing a richness that I've never encountered in any other chili recipe.

One of the secrets to this amazing chili is the addition of masa, a finely ground cornmeal flour common in Mexican and South American cooking. It acts as a thickening agent, but also lends a slight, very welcome hint of corn. Taking a lead from the masa, I was inspired to make a skillet of The Pioneer Woman's Skillet Cornbread. Both recipes were simple, pretty much perfect, and made enough leftovers to be enjoyed for many days to come.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Pioneer Woman Cooks to give away this week.

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