Texas temptation

Try this version of a junk food delicacy from the Lone Star State.

click to enlarge FRITO HEY: A junk food recipe featuring the beloved Frito, just in time for football season. - KATIE MACHOL SIMON
FRITO HEY: A junk food recipe featuring the beloved Frito, just in time for football season.

Frito pie. It’s not really a pie by most standards, but the savory Southern answer to nachos contains a massive pile of Frito chips, topped with chili and cheese. If you’ve never heard of it before now, I feel quite sorry for you (chances are you’re a Northerner).

What makes it so incredibly good? Let’s break it down, layer by delicious layer. First, there’s the Frito base, crunchy, salty corn chips. Then you’ve got meaty, spicy chili (good ol’ Texas beef chili, no beans allowed) that sits atop and soaks into the chips. The chili and chips get a hearty layer of gooey cheese. And finally, the garnishes come — sour cream, pickled jalapeños, and cilantro.

While the original recipe is fine, I dare you to try my updated highfalutin’ version of this iconic American dish. Instead of chili, I used smoked pulled pork lightly coated in barbecue sauce, and for the cheese portion, I whipped up some melty green chile and goat cheese queso. Not wanting to stray too far from the original, Fritos are a must-have in the dish rather than tortilla or other corn chips (otherwise it’d just be plain old nachos). This dish is also quite tasty with chopped, smoked beef brisket.

This weekend, whether you’re watching the big game or just need an excuse to eat Fritos for dinner, give this recipe a try. It’s as easy as, well, pie.

Author’s note: I promise this recipe wasn’t sponsored by Fritos. They’re just my guilty junk food pleasure.

Frito Pie with Pulled Pork and Green Chile Goat Cheese Queso

Makes a big messy pile of goodness

Ingredients for Green Chile Goat Cheese Queso

3 tablespoons butter
1 Anaheim, Hatch or other fresh chile, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cold milk, plus more for thinning out if needed
8 ounces soft goat cheese (chèvre), plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients for Frito Pie

Fritos Corn Chips, as needed (one large bag if feeding more than two people)
Pulled pork, warm, as needed (substitute beef or chicken)
Barbecue sauce of your choosing, as needed
Warm Green Chile Goat Cheese Queso, as needed
1/2 red onion, diced
A few tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
A large pinch of chili powder

Directions for the Queso

Heat butter in a small sauté or sauce pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the green chile and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes. When the chilies are soft, add the garlic, cook until just fragrant, and then whisk in the flour. Cook the flour, whisking constantly, for about a minute or two to cook out the raw flour taste and to whisk out the lumps. When it’s cooked and smooth, gradually whisk in the cold milk and stir until it’s completely combined. Lower the heat and whisk in the 8 ounces of goat cheese. Turn off the heat when almost all of the cheese has melted. Whisk in more milk if the queso is too thick and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Directions for the Frito pie

In one large or multiple single-serving dishes, add as many Fritos as you like (usually a handful or two per person/serving). Toss about a half-cup of warm meat per serving in a little barbecue sauce and place on top of the Fritos. Top meat with as much warm, gooey queso as you can handle, then sprinkle diced onion, cilantro and a little chili powder on top. Serve immediately (and thank me later).

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