Warm-ish days, and cool-ish nights, I want some actual comfort food. And jumping to the front of my brain from the long-forgotten and dark passageways of my memories comes a Texas school cafeteria staple. The “Corn Chip” Pie. It is actually named after a national brand of corn chips, but I do make a rule NOT to name specific brands.
This is a legendary dish in the southwest and has many names, Fr*to Pie, Walking Taco, etc, etc; call it what you may, I call it comfort food.
In it’s most basic form; a bed of corn chips is smothered in a thick chili, and covered with grated cheese. Other additions of sour cream, green onions, and jalapenos are common.
Frito pie is a dish popular in the Midwestern, Southeastern, and Southwestern United States, whose basic ingredients are chili, cheese, and corn chips (traditionally Fritos). Additions can include salsa, refried beans, sour cream, onion, rice, or jalapeños. There are many variations and alternative names used by region. Frito pie can be prepared in a casserole dish, but an alternate preparation can be in a single-serve Fritos-type corn chip bag with various ingredients as toppings. In Mexico a similar type of dish is chilaquiles.
The exact origin of the frito pie is not completely clear.
The oldest known recipe using Fritos brand corn chips with chili was published in Texas in 1949. The recipe may have been invented by Daisy Doolin, the mother of Frito Company founder Charles Elmer Doolin and the first person to use Fritos as an ingredient in cooking, or by Mary Livingston, Doolin’s executive secretary. The Frito-Lay company attributes the recipe to Nell Morris, who joined Frito-Lay in the 1950s and helped develop an official cookbook which included the Frito pie.
Charles Doolin and his Frito Company were early investors in Disneyland, which opened Casa de Fritos restaurant in Disneyland in 1955. “Frito Chili Pie” appears on the 1950s menu.
Another story claims that true frito pie originated only in the 1960s with Teresa Hernández, who worked at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her frito pie used homemade red chili con carne with cheddar cheese and onions, and was served in the bag, which was thicker in the 1960s than it is now.
Corn Chip Pie
- 1 lb Beef Minced, See Notes
- 1 ea Onion Diced small
- 1 Pkg Corn Chips You know the one, Fr*tos
- 10 oz Enchilada Sauce
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- 2 Tbsp Taco Mix See https://www.roguechef.com/?p=3239
- 1 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 can Ranch Style Beans OPTIONAL
- 1 Can Hatch Green Chilies OPTIONAL
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers
- Add beef and onions, and chillies (if used) cook 6-8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, crumbling meat; drain
- Add the taco mix, beans if used, and enough enchilada sauce to cover, bring to a boil, thence reduce heat and simmer to reduce the sauce.
- We are looking for a thick chili consistency here.
- Taste and season
- In a greased 13×9 in baking dish, add a layer of corn chips to the bottom
- Add a layer of the meat mixture, and a layer of cheese
- Repeat the layering, leaving a layer of chips and cheese for the final layers.
- Bake, uncovered, 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes
- Serve siding with guacamole, salsa, and more cheese.
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