Frito Pie

I’m not sure how people are going to react to this recipe. But I’m putting it out there anyway. It was good and tasty and deserves a look. In the world of food, where much of it is presented as if it were classical music, Frito Pie is decidedly punk rock – simple, riffs off of other more established genres, and goes really well with beer.

But there’s an ingredient below which may give people pause, one which requires a bit of an acknowledgment on my part. For all my railing against Kraft Cheese (and let’s be honest here, their Kraft singles are quite horrid), there is a time a place for Velveeta. Frito pie is one of those times. Actually, Velveeta holds well in much of the Tex-Mex world. And it should be noted on the Velveeta box, Kraft calls it a “cheese product”, meaning even they recognize it’s not cheese, but merely cheese-ish in its composition.

For you Frito-Pie purists out there (and I know you exist), I do note that I did not top the frito pie with sour cream nor pickled jalapenos. Both were an option which I partake. Nor did I serve on top of an open bag of Fritos, choosing instead to take the Fritos out of the bag before dumping the chili upon them. I’m a heathen like that.

  • 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef brisket, cubed
  • 3 cups onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 10.75-ounce can tomato purée
  • 12 oz. beer – Mexican or Texas lager if you can
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Fritos
  • 6 oz. Velveeta (diced)
  • green onions (for garnish)

Place a skillet over medium heat and add yellow cornmeal, chili powder, black pepper, salt, cumin, oregano leaf, and red pepper flakes. Toast for seven minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In separate skillet, brown lean ground beef. Drain and set aside.

In large Dutch Oven or Stock put (around 6 qt in size), sauté chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of oil until pieces start to turn transparent. Add chopped garlic, ground beef and beef cubes. Add toasted spices and canned chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, the beer and the water. Simmer over low heat for at least 1 hour, stirring frequently.

Serve chili over Fritos corn chips. Top each serving with 1 oz. of Velveeta and green onions

Serves 6 to 8