Frito Pie

Yay! I successfully made Frito Pie!

Well, the pie part isn’t hard — Frito Pie is made by layering Fritos, chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream. It’s the only way I like to eat chili. The hard part was finding a chili recipe that I thought I’d like. It’s got to be Cincinnati-style, with the cocoa powder. I don’t remember where I downloaded the one I had, but it worked.

It’s easy enough — brown a pound of ground beef with a chopped onion, a minced clove of garlic, and a tablespoon of chili powder. (I recommend Penzey’s for all my spices.) Add a teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice, and cumin. (Only I didn’t have allspice or cumin, so I left them out. I think I’m allergic to cumin anyway. I should find some allspice next time, though.) Add 1/2 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper and salt; a tablespoon and a half of cocoa; and a tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce and cider vinegar. Pour in a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of water, and simmer for an hour and a half.

That’s it! I’m planning on taking it to work for lunch with a salad of chopped tomato and avocado on the side.

7 Responses to “Frito Pie”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Wow, that sounds like too much work!:) I just buy mine from the local deli for $1.05.:)

  2. Vincent Murphy Says:

    Sounds good except for the “Cincinnati-style” chili part. That’s like chili with training wheels. Or chili that shouldn’t even be called chili. :)

    I’m not a big fan of cumin, either, though. I don’t think I’m allergic to it, but the smell just makes me queasy.

  3. Dave Mahlin Says:

    “Sounds good except for the “Cincinnati-style” chili part. That’s like chili with training wheels. Or chili that shouldn’t even be called chili. :)”

    Oh, how tiresome….;)

    This native Cincinnatian would be offended by that if more than 10 years in Texas had not inured him to such silliness. If it doesn’t SOUND good, that’s one thing. But does it TASTE good? That’s quite another.

    During my years in Texas, I experimented with many recipes for Cincy-chili. The internet would have made it a lot easier but those were the dark ages. Occasionally, my Mom would send me cans of the stuff, which I would hoard and savor.

    Now, after nearly another 10 years back in Ohio where I belong, I can have my hometown delicacy anytime I want….

    …Meanwhile, my fiance surprised me with a case of Wolf Brand Chili for Christmas. Yum!

    All good.

  4. Johanna Says:

    James, that assumes that you have a local deli and that it’s heard of Frito Pie. :)

    Plus, I like making my own stuff like that because I know it doesn’t have preservatives or high sodium levels.

    Vincent, what other -style chili is there? As I said, I’m new to this. The only thing I can think of is Texas-style, and that sounds way too hot for me.

    Wow, Dave, I learned more. I thought Cinci-style described the ingredients, but that article makes it sound more like it’s a serving style.

  5. Dave Mahlin Says:

    Yes, Cincinnati chili is as much about the presentation/serving style as the sauce itself. Most local restaurants’ sauces are similar- similar enough to be identifiable as Cincy-style, but there are definitely differences. Growing up, I preferred Skyline and did not like Gold Star- but now, my taste buds having been all but destroyed by years of tex-mex muy picante, I actually prefer Gold Star, which has a more pronounced “bite” to it.

    Cincinnati Chili is a relatively mild, almost sweet dish- but spicy nonetheless. It’s important to remember that spicy and picante are to very different things.

    I vividly remember flying home for Christmas my freshman year at Trinity- my parents picked me up at the Cincinnati airport (which is actually across the river in northern Kentucky) and we stopped at Skyline on the way home. That really hit the spot! It’s normal to miss foods that you can only get in one area. I mentioned Wolf Brand chili, which is a favorite of mine from Texas not sold in the midwest. Know what else I miss?

    I’m curious where you ran across this variety of chili, given that you seem to have been unfamiliar with the traditional way of serving it?

  6. Johanna Says:

    Yeah, I miss Taco Cabana a lot, too. They just did a NY Times article about driving cross-county eating local fast food, and the writer was complimentary about TC.

    As for the chili, there used to be a chain called Hard Times Cafe. (The theme was Depression-era basic food, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they went out of business. It was, like its namesake, somewhat depressing.) We went there for lunch one day, and it was the first time I had Frito Pie. They served 3 or 4 kinds of chili, and the kind I liked they called Cincinnati-style. They also did it with the X-way fixings.

  7. Lyle Says:

    Plus, I like making my own stuff like that because I know it doesn’t have preservatives or high sodium levels.

    That’s a major reason why I like to cook… not just sodium and preservatives but I also like knowing the fat content.

    As for styles of chili, the only other official style I’m aware of would be Texas-style with more hot pepper (though not a lot more from my experience) and using chunks of meat slowly-cooked. I think the new variants on chili are all considered Texas-style, even when the spice is turned down, so maybe its the application that distinguishes Cincinnati-style more, nowadays.




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