God only know why this is called a pie, but you can’t argue with it being good.

The traditional way to consume frito pie, according to our resident Texan, is to slit open a bag of fritos and pour in a cup or two of chili. To eat it any other way (eg. on a plate) is, according to the Dallas Morning News, “allowable but frankly lacks street cred.”

i’m fairly certain this chili recipe was based on something i got somewhere, but what you see here has been through (quite literally) a dozen different variations in search of perfection — so even if my memory was good enough to recall its origin, a citation would be wholly unwarranted.

you can tweak pretty much anything you like about the toppings (sour cream, onions, cheese) but don’t you dare add beans to the chili. seriously. my wife will hunt you down.

full recipe after the jump.

chili ingredients

  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cups chopped onions
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (chipotle chili powder if you can find it)
  • 2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes
  • 12 ounces quality beer (minus one good swig)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste

extra ingredients

  • 1/2 of a 3 oz. bag of original fritos per person
  • raw chopped onions, as desired
  • shredded white cheese, as desired
  • sour cream, as desired

cooking instructions

  1. Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Mix in ground beef. Sauté until brown, breaking up meat with back of spoon, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, basil, oregano, and thyme. Stir 2 minutes.
  4. Mix in canned tomatoes, tomato paste and beer — breaking up tomato products.
  5. Simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 45 minutes.
  6. Plate half a bag of fritos in a shallow bowl per person. Top with chili, and any desired toppings (onions, sour cream, cheese).

NOTE: Chili can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover. Rewarm over low heat before serving, then skip to step 6.