I’m a noncompliant chili chef. I spot a chili recipe, break out the stockpot and handily ignore most of the instructions, unable to keep myself from throwing anything and everything into the mix. Thank goodness food writer, cookbook author and sometime Iron Chef America judge Melissa Clark has come along with a recipe to show me, bite by bite, the merit of chili discipline. A handful of ingredients, well prepared, rather than a whole spice rack of cacophony, are her shared secret.
Bringing a Melissa Clark recipe into your kitchen is like inviting that friend over who always has delicious ideas and solid advice delivered without an ounce of airs. Her cooking is straightforward and smart, at once elegant and inviting. I’ve “known” Melissa, oh, for about a decade, though we’ve never met in person. She wrote food stories I edited at Martha Stewart; she writes my favorite New York Times Dining column, A Good Appetite; I follow her Tweets; we’re Facebook friends. This is all to say I like her style, love her recipes and call her a friend even though we haven’t had the pleasure of sharing a table.