Frito Pie

August 10, 2011
1 Rating
Photo by Joseph DeLeo
Author Notes

Buda (pronounced BYOO-da), Texas is "famous" for a couple small-town festivals: "Red, White, and Buda," where people from around the state gather to race their wiener dogs, and "Budafest," the annual Christmas festival. At both events, Frito Pies are the stars of the concession stands. They're usually made with Fritos, Wolf brand chili, pre-shredded orange cheese product, and onions. My version classes it up a bit, with legit cheddar cheese and an honest Texas chili: no beans, no tomatoes. But it's close enough to the original to satisfy any Texas Fair-goer :) —arielleclementine

Test Kitchen Notes

We loved this Texas-style (no beans, no tomato) chili. The cinnamon and cocoa powder add a nice depth of flavor. The chunks of beef are fall-apart tender, and the semolina gives some thickness to the sauce. We strained the skins out after blending the reconstituted chiles to keep the sauce smooth. The Fritos are fun! We could easily eat this out of a bag, a nice big bowl is pretty hard to beat. —theediblecomplex

  • Serves 4
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stem and seeds removed
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons rendered beef fat (or bacon drippings, or veg oil)
  • 1 pound beef chuck roast, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 12 oz bottle of beer (I used Shiner Bock)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon semolina
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 small bags Fritos
  • 3 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for dolloping
In This Recipe
  1. Tear the chiles into smaller pieces and toast in a medium-sized dutch oven set over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Transfer toasted chiles to a blender, cover with 1 cup of very hot tap water, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Blend the chiles and water until smooth.
  2. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in the now empty pot for a minute or two, until fragrant, and then grind in a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Add the chile powder, cocoa powder, and kosher salt and stir to combine.
  3. Add the beef fat (or bacon fat, or oil) to the dutch oven, set over medium heat. Brown the diced beef in two batches, and then remove to sit on a plate.
  4. Add the onions to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, until soft and caramelized, being sure to scrape up the beef bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the minced garlic and spice blend, and cook for 30 more seconds. Add the browned beef and any accumulated juices, the chile puree, the cinnamon stick, and the bottle of beer. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low and simmer for 3 hours.
  5. Stir in the semolina and season the chili to taste with kosher salt.
  6. To assemble the Frito Pies, cut open the front of the bags of Fritos, and top each with a few spoonfuls of chili, shredded cheddar cheese, minced onion, and a dollop of sour cream. I hope you like it!

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I have always loved food. My favorite books as a kid always featured food (eg. The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies- so much candy!) and I loved cooking shows like Yan Can Cook and The Frugal Gourmet. I started cooking the Thanksgiving dinner for my family when I was 13 years old. I have food52 to thank for inspiring me to come up with my own recipes, as well as for introducing me to a community of fantastic cooks and their amazing recipes. I try my best to cook locally and seasonally, and I tend to prefer straightforward, simple recipes where the ingredients get to shine. I live in wonderful Austin, Texas with my husband, Andy (a video game programmer) and my son, Henry (an 8-month-old who loves to eat).