What We’re Cooking This Week: Frito Pie

For purists, what’s often called a walking taco must be served in a snack-size Fritos bag that’s been sliced open.

Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.

It used to be you could only get one at a high school football game or county fair, but nowadays you’ll find the humble Frito pie at hipster dive bars, neighborhood diners and barbecue spots all over Portland.

To the unfamiliar, it’s not really a pie but Texas-style chili ladled over curly corn chips and topped with grated cheddar and chopped onion. For purists, what’s often called a walking taco must be served in a snack-size Fritos bag that’s been sliced open.

And while it’s easier to just open a can, making the chili from scratch is simple, and the results taste much better. Longtime readers who know about my love of beans will be shocked that this chili doesn’t include any, but the best Frito pie is the simplest.

Frito Pie

Servings: 2-3

1/2 pound ground beef

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chile powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher-style sea salt

1 cup crushed tomatoes

Salt to taste

Snack-size Fritos bags (one per serving), grated cheddar cheese and finely chopped onions to serve

Cook the ground beef and onion in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, breaking the meat up with a spatula as it cooks. When the meat has browned, add chile powder, cumin and tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.

To serve, use scissors or a very sharp knife to cut the face of the Fritos bag. I like to make a single long cut, then short cuts on either side at both ends of the long cut to create flaps. The coated plastic bags don’t open up as easily as the old grease-proof Cellophane ones, but you can carefully peel back the flaps to spoon about a cup of the chili onto the chips. Put some grated cheese and a spoonful of the onions on top, grab a spoon, and eat.

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