This installment in the football food series will take a look at a classic Texas concession stand recipe. Frito Pie. I'm not sure who invented it but whoever it was should be working for NASA. Simple. Delicious. Genius.
When I was growing up Frito Pie was served at what seems like every concession stand in the state. From Little League Parks to High School Football Stadiums, Frito Pie was always an option.
Somewhere in there we started eating it at home. To this day Frito Pie remains a staple around my house in the winter months and always makes its debut in the early fall.
Right around the time that football season kicks off my family starts requesting it. If you have never had it, bowl season would be the perfect time to test drive it.
Details after the jump.
The recipe is ridiculously simple.
Ingredients: Chili, Fritos, Shredded Cheese
*Your favorite chili should work just fine. I know that chili is one of those things that people can get real particular about so we won't spin our wheels there just yet. We will talk more about chili recipes in a minute.
Directions: Dump a handful of Fritos into your bowl of Chili, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and go to town. It is best to add the Fritos right before you start to eat it so that they are still crunchy.
Traditional concession stand Frito Pie is served right in the actual single serving bag of Fritos. You just cut the side of the bag open, insert a scoop of chili, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and it is ready to eat.
The only real variable in this recipe is the chili itself. As mentioned above I am well aware of the fact that there must be 10,000 ways to make chili and every individual is convinced that theirs is the best. There seems to be two primary factions in this national debate. Those that prefer "Texas style" and those that prefer "Cincinnati/ Skyline style."
Those two types of chili are actually pretty different but they are both produced for different purposes. The latter is served over pasta with toppings and the former is typically eaten as a stand alone dish. Within those two primary "types" there are a countless number of variations.
Those that make the Texas style tend to either fall into the beans or no beans camp and tend to be hard line about it. You can also play with the type of meat and the type of beans. I have seen a countless number of concoctions and honestly none of them have been bad. Just different.
The chili that I make and prefer is a Texas variant that does include the beans. It also brings a little heat. When I was growing up my Mom would go through the whole process of cooking down the pinto beans when she made this chili and the basis of the recipe is hers. As an adult I came up with my own adaptation of the recipe that allows me to skip cooking the beans and adds some additional heat in the process. In my opinion the end result is actually better and easier to make. For the bachelors out there that live off of Hamburger Helper even you can make this. Check it out.
1lb Hamburger Meat
18 oz of beer (preferably dark and flavorful)
1 white onion
2 Cans Ranch Style Beans
2 Cans Ranch Style Brand Pinto Beans with jalapenos
1 can Ro-Tel
Brown the hamburger meat with a healthy sprinkling of garlic salt. When it is almost done add an entire diced white onion and cook it in with the meat until the onion is soft and turning translucent. Then drain the meat as appropriate and move your meat into a chili pot.
Pour in the beer. You can substitute water here but the beer gives you more flavor and also provides some gas redux post consumption. I'm not a food chemist so I don't know why that is the case but it works. My brother-in-law turned me on to that little trick some time ago.
Now add your chili powder. 1TBS for a mild batch, 2 TBS for a medium batch and 3 TBS if you want it to have a nice kick. Stir the chili powder in to the meat/ beer concoction.
Add all 4 cans of beans and the can of Ro-Tel.
Stir all of that up really well and heat it up until it begins to simmer. Once it is simmering, let it do so for about 30 minutes with an occasional stir. Then remove it from the heat and let the pot sit on the stove with the lid on and cool for an hour. This will allow the chili to thicken a bit and it also lets the flavors really settle in together. After about an hour it will still be hot but will have cooled enough that you can start serving it. I have found my best results when I make the chili first thing in the morning then let it sit for more like 3-4 hours. Then I actually heat it back up around lunch time to start serving it while watching football.
I am well aware that not cooking my own beans makes it less "authentic" but I for whatever reason I just don't like cooking my own pinto beans. I also actually prefer the flavor that I get when I mix the two different types of Ranch Style beans together in the recipe.
Try this recipe. You won't be sorry.
And if you are too married to your own chili recipe to try this one then at least toss a handful of Fritos and some shredded cheese into yours and see what you think!
Share your thoughts in the comments. And if you have a chili recipe that the rest of us should know about share that too!