by Matt on January 22, 2007

I’ve gone through great lengths to not let my professional culinary experience get the best of me. No amount of food tours, international travel, trade shows, dinners and tasting panels will ever go to my head, no sir! (Ok, written down it sounds exciting but trust me, it is a job.) Underneath the exterior of a man who tries his best to live up to his corporate image is a professional dork of the highest order. If you don’t believe me I’ve got photographic evidence of me in a wig with, er, um, nevermind. Back to the food, the real reason why I keep this blog.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I find it necessary to step away from my professional life and get back to basics. And when I say basics I mean the tastes and flavors that i grew up with on the gulf coast of Texas, however-bad-for-you and trashy they may be.

Enter Frito Pie.

I was prompted to write this entry about my beloved Frito Pie because just today I was talking about it with a co-worker. I went on blabbing for about 6 minutes about how it’s been forever since I’ve had one and how if I had my druthers I’d eat my weight in fritos and chili and get fat (ok, fatter) and never leave the house and wear torn up sweatpants and a wifebeater and drink nothing but Big Red and become a giant blob of a human being–all with tattoos, of course. After my co-worker let me gab nonstop (thanks, Sandy!) she turned to me, stared me straight in the eyes and asked:


Ok, people, if you keep a vegan blog, a blog focusing on healthy eating or living, or have any type of political agenda against bad taste or junk food then now is a great time to point your browser to another web site. You see, Frito Pie is so wrong that it’s right, so bad that it’s good, and that makes me very, very happy.

Just like margaritas and caesar salads, Frito Pie’s origins aren’t completely clear and have been debated for many years. Everyone seems to stake their claim to its invention, but in this case I could care less. New Mexico, Texas, Jupiter or Mars, it could be from Heaven as far as I’m concerned. Just keep them coming.

Ok, enough already. What exactly is a Frito Pie? A staple of county fairs, drive-ins, bake sales and ballparks for decades, Frito Pie nirvana is created when an individual serving-size bag of Fritos is spit open along the back and topped with chili, grated cheese and chopped onions. You may encounter different methods such as baking all the ingredients like a casserole but be assured that you’re reading nothing more than good old-fashioned heresy.

As with all recipes of high quality pedigree, Frito Pie’s ingredients and proportions do matter. I believe it’s most authentic when prepared with canned chili without beans, and Frito Pies must be made with Frito-Lay brand corn chips. Anything less and it’s not a Frito Pie. A scoop of chili is sufficient as your goal is to not drown the chips but slighty coat them, leaving them crunchy.

And yes, I’m fully aware that the image above portrays a Frito Pie a la  "Straw Hat" variety because it’s in a bowl and not the bag.

Ok, at this point I know what you’re thinking: man this sounds absolutely atrocious and horrible and packed with sodium, artificial ingredients, saturated fat and I can’t wait to try it! Seriously though, I won’t fault you or get angry if you leave hate mail as I realize that regional "specialties" aren’t for everyone. We can’t all love cheese curds from Wisconsin, a grinder from New England, or even Poutine from Quebec (Wait a minute, I love all those things so scratch that point I was feebly attempting to make.)

Tomorrow I’ll return to my world of artisan foods, but tonight I’ll be indulging my inner Texan and damaging some arterial walls. I’m off to the kitchen, y’all!

Frito Pie

Fritos Corn Chips
Chili (without beans)
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Chopped Onion

Heat chili and pour on top of Fritos. Top with cheese and onions. Because it’s usually served on the go I have omitted exact amounts needed. It’s always to taste, it seems. This recipe can also be prepared with vegetarian chili with delicious results. It’s really the Fritos that make it so bad for you.

This entry originally appeared last year at the old Mattbites sight. It has magically reappeared because 1) I pigged out on a Frito Pie last weekend and 2) I find myself craving another one.