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Recipes from The Oklahoma Celebrity Cookbook: Reba McEntire’s Hot ‘n’ Spicy Chunky Beef Chili

As the reigning queen of country music, Reba McEntire has made Oklahoma pop culture her own culture, with platinum records, a hit television series, and – following in the footsteps of Toby Keith and Blake Shelton – the launch of her own restaurant, Reba’s Place in Atoka.

A true country icon to many in the Okie world, Reba's star was still rising up the charts in the late '80s and early '90s, when she was crossing over from mainstream country singer into the megastar she is today. Back then, she had no qualms about submitting her favorite chili recipe to the 1991 Oklahoma Celebrity Cookbook.

As you may know, I’ve been recreating recipes from this Oklahoma Celebrity Cookbook over the past few months, and with Reba's music on my mind, I decided to try her Hot ‘n’ Spicy Chunky Beef Chili. Much like her discography, it's a hot country night in a small town, only with far more belching. Pass the ammo...and the Tums!

Reba’s recipe required an extensive lineup of ingredients: beef chuck steak, hot chili peppers, bell peppers, onions, minced garlic, and various cans of tomatoes and spices. The only ingredient I couldn’t locate was the word-bubbling explosion of Bake-Rite, a Made in Oklahoma supplier of canned lard that, sadly, is no longer in business.

I started by browning the lean boneless beef chuck, cut into inch-long pieces. Adding the onion and garlic to the mix created a tear-inducing moment that made me cry like Cathy's Clown.

With the base done, I added a large can of juicy plum tomatoes, a sad little can of tomato paste, a dash of oregano, and, because I live on the culinary edge, double the amount of chili powder and crushed red peppers.

After adding a bit of water, the bubbling mixture simmered for about thirty minutes. I threw in the chopped green bell peppers and let it simmer for around one hour.

In the meantime, I discovered that Reba took on the Pioneer Woman and published her own cookbook last year.

Titled Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots, it was a bestseller and even included a forward from Garth Brooks. Maybe next time, I’ll try out Garth’s Cabbage Rolls from the pages of the Oklahoma Celebrity Cookbook.

As my timer went off, the chili was still slowly bubbling away. Taking a batch of Jiffy cornbread out of the oven, I gave myself a hearty helping of the dark red—Oklahoma red!—concoction, with the chuck cuts and the plum tomatoes front and center in the bowl, adding just a little bit of cheese and green onions on the top.

The Heart Won't Lie, this was the tastiest country music chili I have ever eaten, with the thick chunks of meat and tomatoes doing the work, but it was the chili powder and the red pepper pods doing the heavy lifting, making sure the meal was fire, both metaphorically and literally. With my brow quietly sweating, I had to have another bowl.

I may not know much about her music, but when it comes to her homemade chili, Reba’s won’t let me down. Now I’m curious—has this killer chili made it onto the menu at Reba’s Place? I guess a trip to Atoka is in my future…

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