I’ve been fascinated by Frito pie for a long time but it was only when I finally remembered to buy a bag of Fritos, a very tasty fried corn chip snack, on my recent visit to North America that I got to try this Tex-Mex treat. For it is a treat – making Frito pie an everyday meal is certainly a bad idea for your arteries.
There are two schools when it comes to the pie. One is a baked casserole (the American baked layered dish, not a stew as in the UK) that I think is mainly made at home; it was not this version that I fancied, knowing that baking a layer of Fritos under a layer of chilli would only end with non-crunchy results. Better to me was the version where the construction is put together right before eating. Apparently, it’s common at state fairs, where you’d walk away with a single serving bag of Fritos torn open and filled with chilli and a number of toppings. Readers with experience – is a fork or a spork the traditional eating utensil?
For Frito pie, you need Fritos, difficult to obtain in the UK but not impossible; I found individual serving size bags for sale on Amazon. Slightly crushed plain tortilla chips would also work but it won’t be the same – Fritos are just extremely crunchy.
Then, make your chilli – minced beef or minced steak is good enough for this application. You don’t need your fanciest recipe for this – any ol’ chilli made with chilli powder will do. I used some dried ancho and guajillo chillies though, along with a bit of cayenne for heat. A can of beans was also added to make it go further (and I like beans) though usually the chilli is meat only.
If you have a small bag of Fritos, rip it open; if you have a large bag, place a portion into a bowl or plate. Pour over a ladleful of chilli and then top with shredded cheese, chopped onion and pickled or fresh jalapeno pepper slices. Other good toppings include chopped tomatoes and sour cream. Yes, it’s all good.
Sit on a comfy spot on your sofa with plate in one hand, fork in the other, and tuck in. Crunch, crunch.