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Frito Pie ...and the makings of a Chilito!

41 comments /
The term "pie" is used loosely here.  If I were to name this dish, I'd probably dub it: Frichos (Frito Nachos).  The deep, earthy, bold flavors of the Southwest on a plate.  Chipotle chile powder, cayenne pepper, and hot smoked paprika lend particularly spicy notes and undertones to the seasoned ground beef.   Scooped up with thick, salty corn chips...with a cloud of cooling sour cream perched atop with the smattering of other tasty toppings...it's about as comfort-food as it gets.

I happened to make this a few days ago when the ground (and subsequently my outdoor table) was still wet.  But now, when cautiously squinting out the window at a ten-inch wall of blinding bright snow almost causes you to shiver sympathetically with the barren trees, would be a fabulous time for another warming plateful of Frichos.  I mean Frito Pie.  And since corn chips disappear as quickly around here as tortilla chips, I had to find a different application for that extra picoso meat leftover in the fridge. 

 Now, I'm going to dare voice two words that will either cause your belly to grumble or your body to shudder. Taco Bell.  Should I say it again?  Taco Bell.  I'm going to go ahead and admit that I like it.  Hey, I grew up with it.  During lunch in high school, we used to race over to TB...order...shove it down as quickly as you can (high school lunch-syndrome)...and get back before the bell rang.  I don't eat it that often anymore, but about once every six months or so, I get the craving.  Inevitably I order a bean burrito w/ sour cream plus one other thing.  Everybody I know has a favorite.  My sister's was a Chilito (Chili Cheese Burrito)...which I don't think they even make anymore.  However, I called her up excitedly yesterday after I magically and unexpectedly made one  at home.  Using the meat that I had left from the Frichos.  Basically, take a large flour tortilla.  Put a line of this meat down the center.  Top that with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Microwave until hot.  And roll it up into a burrito.  Add sour cream, if you're like me (though that's not original to a Chilito).  Taste and be amazed.  I swear, it tastes JUST like it.  Exactly!
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Frito Pie

by Heather Schmitt-González adapted from Saveur no.144
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Keywords: entree beef Southwest

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 2½ lb. ground beef
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs. chipotle chile powder
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¼ Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs. smoked paprika
  • 1½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 c. whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, pureed
  • 1½ c. water
to serve:
  • ~14 oz. Fritos (or other corn chips)
  • Cheddar-Jack cheese, shredded
  • sour cream
  • pickled jalapenos, sliced
  • scallions, sliced
  • cilantro
Instructions

Brown beef in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to break up clumps, until done, ~10 minutes. Drain fat.

Heat oil in the same pan and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to caramelize, ~15 minutes.

Add garlic and a big pinch of salt and cook for another 5 minutes or so, still stirring. Add all of the spices to the pan and cook, stirring, for another minute or so.

Add beef back to pan along with the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and deep red in color, ~45 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Taste and add salt, if needed.

To serve, divide chips into piles on plates. Top with a couple of scoops of the meat. Add as much sour cream and cheese to each plate as you'd like. Scatter with jalapenos, scallions, and cilantro. Enjoy!
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41 comments

  1. Okay now ...you had me at Frito Pie...that got my attention! So funny that you accidently discoverd a childhood favorite and had to admitt you loved Taco Bell...sorry, I just thought that was funny! I really miss Ole Taco from when I lived in Grand Rapids! Loved their cheese enchiladas.

    BTW..Go Spartans...did you watch the Outback Bowl?

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  2. Sprigs of RosemaryJanuary 3, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    Your description had me sold before I even looked at the recipe!  YUM!  And about TB -- ever hear the comedian Kathleen Madigan?  Hilarious woman.  She thinks it should be restaurant of the year!  "How can they come up with something new all the time with the same five ingredients!"

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  3. I've never had Taco Bell - I don't think they have them here or in Australia! But this frichos looks absolutely my cup of tea.

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  4. Wow! Gorgeous. I'm a big fan of the walking taco and old school Frito pie, but this really bumps it up a level doesn't it? Happy 2012 Heather - miss you!

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  5. This looks fabulously delicious - and I love the name Frichos! I used to love Taco Bell too, but that couldn't hold a candle to this dish!

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  6. Looks wonderful....we love a good plate of nachos around here!

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  7. Ha!  I've heard of her, but I don't remember hearing that bit. I'll look it up! =) ...because so true, so true...

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  8. HECKS YES, I DID!!  WOOOOT!  That was an amazing game- go Spartans! And yeah, I can't help admitting it.  Do you remember that old Taco Bell on Plainfield?  It had really awesome colorful bucket-type seats?  I'd loved those.  And before Cinnamon Twists (yuck) they had Cinnamon Crispas!? Man, those were killer. I don't know if I remember Taco Ole, but Taco Boy was a favorite of mine.  That movie 30 Minutes or Less (was filmed in GR) and they ate at Taco Boy! I got happy ;P.  Oh, totally different, but how about Beltline Bar!? Best wet burritos EVER.

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  9. Cocina de Muerte LentaJanuary 3, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Just wondeful, full of flavor... i love the way you cook!!

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  10. This has my little sis written ALL over it..She ADORES Taco Bell!!  Frito pie is one of my weakness I downed a HUGE one at the drive inn over the holidays!!

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  11. I made frito pie last year for my gourmet boyfriend and I thought his head was going to explode!  He claimed he had not lived before it...
    I tend to make things like casseroles, fried chicken, banana pudding and smores for he and his cheffin' buddies.  They really need to be reminded what REAL comfort food is sometimes...Loved this post... as "frichos" are so near and dear to my heart.  And my hips. :)

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  12. delicious looking pie looks wonderful

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  13. I cannot believe I have never had Frito Pie. That is really shameful to admit isn't it?? And this looks SO SO SO good! 

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  14. This is my kind of Pie! I'm crazy about nachos but I have to add more jalapeno slices!

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  15. I try not to think too much about how many calories are in a plate of fritos, oh boyy, haha. I'd opt for tortilla chips for these :) Though I am trying to think of ways you could finagle fritos into a pie plate now, haha!

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  16. Taco Bell and Frito Pie spell comfort here at The Cottage, oh  yes!

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  17. FRICHOS. You totally need to market that to TB. I love it. I'm going to use it in a sentence tomorrow.

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  18. I definitely remember the chilito.  The other thing about TB when we were in high school was the allure of the $.79, $.89, $.99 menu, remember that back in the day? 

    This reminds me of my favorite local fast food item called Petros.  http://www.petros.com/information.php?info_id=12

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  19. This looks fantastic! I love this type of entree.. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Gerry @Foodness GraciousJanuary 4, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    Mmmm, this looks awesome! I could make that dissapear in a flash, perhaps with a little more jalapenos on top but that's just me ;) Taco Bell, hmm theres so many awesome Mexican restaurants around me I probably wouldn't hit the Bell but I do not judge!!
    Take care..

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  21. Yumm, seriously makes me hungry..

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  22. Yes, you're totally right.  But wasn't it .59, .79, .99!?  Sheesh...I feel old ;)  We don't have a Petro's around here that I know of, but I'll keep my eyes peeled.

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  23. I could eat this frito pie everyday for the rest of my life and not get tired of it. 

    I haven't ate at Taco Bell for 5 years.  Can you believe it? 

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  24. Hoho, hola!! extrañé andar por aquí, ya llegué!! yo hago algo parecido pero con Nachos de sabritas y le llamamos taco soup!! es delicioso!!
    Vengo por una receta, la voy a buscar !
    un abrazo feliz 2012

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  25. I love that you use a large amount of spices. So many recipes call for 1 teaspoon of cumin, which I can't even taste. I always wonder if my taste buds are screwed up because I need a tablespoon at least. lol

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  26. ¡Gracias, Pily y feliz  año nuevo a usted y su familia!

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  27. I hear ya.  I don't actually consider Taco Bell Mexican food...more Southwest or Ameri-Mex.  We have killer REAL Mexican restaurants around here (and a Little Mexico to boot!). =)

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  28. Recipes to warm us inside, such as this are so perfect for the chill weather (30s and 40s) that we've been experiencing down South, Heather!  Happy new year to you too!!!!

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  29. I want this. Right now. It is just what  my soul has been craving. I haven't been eating nearly enough Mexican/Tex-Mex food lately. And taco bell used to rock my world. Now you do.

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  30. i ate something like this once at a friend's house when i was in grammar school...her mom called it walking tacos...i loved it but could never convince my mom to make it.  the closest she got was to taco salad!  this looks amazing and i KNOW hubster would love it.

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  31. Oh, Yes! We used to have Walking Tacos at baseball and football games in high school.  It is the same, except you put the ingredients right into a snack-size Frito bag and eat it with a fork as you're walking around. YUM!

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  32. This looks delicious, Heatrher!I love all those spices you used here! Happy New Year!

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  33. What a great eat this would be on a day like today! I'm eager to spend the day relaxing and cooking...this might just have to happen too! I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Much love from Austin!

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  34. I really like the word "cloud" when you describe sour cream, so don't hate me if I copy cat that sometime.  :)  Ok, and also don't hate me when I say I can not stand Taco Bell.  I think I've been twice in my life.  The reason, there was a chain out of Wichita Kansas called Taco Tico.  It had been in my small town before Taco Bell, so I was used to their style of fast food first.  So when I tried TB, I immediatley turned my nose up.  Now, with all that said, I like McDonalds.....so don't hate me.  :)

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  35. I'd never hate you!  And I'll admit that every once in a while, I MUST have a Big Mac ;)

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  36. Yum! Although I don't really do fast food at all any more, the cravings I occasionally get would be for Taco Bell. This looks fabulous--total comfort food. ;-)

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  37. Heather, you're the best!  I love your style, your talent and your honesty! I grew up with Taco Bell too, and despite my leanings toward food snobbery, have never lost my affection for some of the TB classics.  Do you remember the Enchirito -- an enchilada/burrito hybrid?  I loved those things (way back in the 70s).

    I've never actually tried a frito pie, but I'm going to remedy that soon by trying your recipe.  Yum!

    Featuring your recipe on my Facebook page today!

    Jenn

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  38. Hey Jenn... You know, I don't remember the enchirito (and that makes me kind of sad).  Huh.  Thanks so much for the feature =)

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