My Material Life

Frito Pie Night

This makes such a fun dinner.  The only problem is that it tastes so good, you’ll be tempted to overeat.  I’ve always loved the idea of Frito pie, but I never had a really tasty one (I usually don’t like the flavor of restaurant chile) until last night. I ate two of them actually.  They were inspired by the current issue of Saveur magazine, the annual one where they feature their favorite 100 food-related things.  I was just flipping through the magazine at the store checkout stand when I saw their Frito pie, and I knew I had to get over to Smart & Final so I could purchase my own paper boats (250 of them).  I suppose you could make these without paper boats, but they probably wouldn’t taste as good and they certainly wouldn’t be as much fun to eat.

The toppings that Saveur recommends sounded so good:  cheddar and jack cheeses, sour cream, cilantro, green onion, red onion (forgot to use this), fresh jalapeno pepper (too hot for me, but husband liked it).  I knew I would use my own chile recipe and I was excited to have such a wonderful excuse to buy one of my favorite – but rarely indulged in snack foods – Fritos corn chips.

To make Frito pie place a layer of Fritos in your boat, spoon chile on top of that, and then add the toppings of your choice. You’ll find the Saveur recipe for chile and the complete pie here, but I’ll also share the way I make chile with you.  My recipe is adapted from The Joy of Cooking (one of the older versions).  It reminds me of the chile my mom used to make. She used the Caroll Shelby kit that comes in the little brown bag.  Mom liked to serve chile over white rice and I still love it that way, especially with sour cream and cheddar.  That’s the perfect comfort food for me.

Here’s the way I make chile:

Cook 1 pound ground turkey and 2-3 minced garlic cloves in about 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Drain off fat and add 2 rinsed cans of pinto beans, about 2 cups of water, 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste (depending on how much tomato flavor you want), approximately 2 tablespoons of chile powder (I use Penzey’s regular), 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, pepper, and 1 bay leaf to the turkey and garlic.  Bring to boil and then simmer on very low heat for 45 minutes to an hour.  Check periodically to see if you need to add more water.

If you live nearby, I’d be more than happy to set you up with some paper boats.

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