The $1 million recipe

Salsa couscous chicken

We have a sneaking suspicion that most of our members have a soft spot for the Pillsbury Bake Off contest. Certainly anyone who’s ever made a bundt cake should be grateful to the 2nd place winner of the 1966 contest: The  “Tunnel-of-Fudge” cake inspired an explosion in popularity for bundt cakes. Ditto anyone who’s ever unrolled crescent dough and added a filling before rolling it back up – a  chocolate toffee winner started that craze.

We’ve unearthed a couple of resources that give histories and inside looks at the Pillsbury Bake Off that we thought you’d enjoy. Sandy’s Chatter (an excellent blog about passionate cookbook collecting) had a recent column on Collecting Pillsbury Bake Off Cookbooks, with an emphasis on the history of bundt cakes.

For those who want something more indepth, inside stories, and some excellent advice on how to win a cooking contest, we recommend The Ungarnished Truth, A Cooking Content Memoir: A Woman, A Chicken Dinner, A Million Dollars, by Ellie Matthews. Ellie won the Bake-off in 1998, the first year when a contestant didn’t have to use Pillsbury Gold Medal Flour. Ellie won for her Salsa Couscous Chicken, which essentially was chicken thighs cooked in El Paso Salsa and some other ingredients, (the recipe is in the book, but can also be found here on the Pillsbury website). The book was published in 2008 but still can be readily found in both eBook and hardback editions. It’s especially worth reading for the stories of her appearances on Rosie O’Donnell’s and Oprah’s talk shows. 

And it’s time to start thinking about preparing something for next year’s contest. As these resources prove — a recipe doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate to win. And $1 million is nothing to sneeze at.

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