The first time I ever had Frito Pie was in Vermont, served by my Texan friends Stacy and Chris. They'd been talking it up a lot and finally on one cold winter's night they invited over a crew to try it. I expected a "real" pie-- a crust made of Fritos perhaps, or some variation of cracker pie made with the classic corn chips. But what I got was much better, a simplified perfection, the genius idea of smothering Fritos with chili, then sprinkling it with your favorite toppings, an inverted chili cheese nachos, of sorts.
Fritos were invented in San Antonio, Texas in 1932 by Elmer Doolin (the same man who would later invent Cheetos). Doolin perfected the recipe in his home kitchen with his mother's help, and began selling the chips under the Frito Corporation name. To this day, Fritos are made with only the three original ingredients: corn, corn oil, and salt. There is some speculation on who invented Frito Pie, but there are references to it almost as old as the chip itself.
Since I'm no Frito Pie expert (though my childhood friend's mother did make something similar, which she called "Mexican Mountain"), I turned to Chris, the one responsible for who introducing me to Frito Pie in the first place. He said, "
Though it's often eaten as a street or fair food as Chris mentioned, in a cut open single-serving Frito bag, with chili piled atop, here's a version you can make at home. This particular time, I was interested in slow-cooking some chili on a January Saturday afternoon and opted for my friend Morgan's husband Mitchell's prize-winning "Mitchilli". It's crazy good and contains TWO bottles of Dogfish Head and is totally worth the wait (and of which you'll have leftovers, for more Frito Pie). If, however, you want your pie faster, Homesick Texan has a great One-hour Chili. Feel free to use your own favorite recipe, Wolf Brand or otherwise.
Mitchell's "Mitchili"Adapted from Mitchell West's prizewinning recipe
Adapted from Homesick Texan
4 c. Fritos
4 c. Mitchilli (or chili of your choice)
1 c. cheddar or pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/4 c. diced green onions
1/4 c. pickled jalapenos (optional)
1/2 avocado (optional)
1/4 c. sour cream (optional)
1. Place 1 c. (or a handful) of Fritos in each bowl. Top with 1 c. of chili and add desired toppings. Serves 4.
2. As Chris suggested, "