Walking tacos, as they were called in the tiny Indiana town where I grew up, were standard fare at school lunch, football games, cookouts, and more. Consisting of no more than a bag of Fritos split open with barely-saucy ground beef, diced raw white onions, and shredded cheese, they satisfied adults and children alike. Funny enough, I’d never tried my hand at them until recently, and after stumbling upon arielleclementine’s version of Frito Pie, I got inspired. Her Texas-style chili intrigued me, especially her dried chile puree, so I married it with a few ingredients I always include in my own: fresh green pepper and a little instant espresso. Bison meat is big around southern Indiana (seriously!), so I included this instead of beef (if you have access to it, you could also use elk for a similar texture and leanness). Arielleclementine’s Frito Pie includes cocoa powder, but I used a vanilla porter in mine to add some of that sweetness. You can serve it in single serving Frito bags or layer it up in a dish for family-style dinner. Either way, it’s going to taste delicious. —Samantha Weiss Hills
several single-serve walking tacos, or one 9-inch pie
dried chiles, like ancho, guajillo, pasilla, mulato, stem and seeds removed
Make arielleclementine’s chile puree: 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.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, pour in the vegetable oil. Add a 1/2 cup of the onions and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes, then add the peppers. Sautée for 1-2 minutes more, then add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the bottle of beer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let cook for about 45 minutes to an hour.
When the beer looks like it’s almost gone, add the ground bison, as well as the chile powder, espresso powder, cumin, and salt, to the center of the pot. Brown the meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Add the chile puree and chicken stock, stir to coat, and let everything simmer, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours.
Build your Frito pie(s), walking tacos, etc! If you’re doing single servings: Either open the chip bags at the top or split them open down the side. Spoon your chili over the fritos and top it with the leftover diced onions, cheese, sour cream—whatever you like. If you’re doing family-style: Pour a large bag of chips into a serving dish and layer up the same way you’d do with single serving, just with more!