Forget peanuts and Cracker Jacks. One bite of Frito pie transports twins Jonathan and Justin Fox, co-owners of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q and Big Tex, to their childhood baseball park in Houston, Texas. After every Little League game, they’d head to the concession stand for this portable Lone Star treat, made by ladling beanless chili directly into single-serving bags of corn chips. The brothers were born three minutes apart on March 2 (Texas Independence Day) in San Antonio, which is also where the deep-fried masa chips that came to be known as Fritos originated in the early 1930s. The history of Frito pie is murky, though it is rarely seen beyond the Southwest. “When we first decided to serve Frito pie at the restaurant, most of our customers had never heard of it,” says Jonathan. “Now it’s one of the most popular things on our menu.” The Foxes serve the dish straight from the bag in true Texas fashion.
1 tablespoon oil (olive or canola)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups onion, finely diced
3/4 cup jalapeños, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
32 ounces beef stock
5 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from can of chipotles in adobo)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound barbecued or roasted chopped brisket (ground beef may be substituted; brown with onions and chiles)
2 tablespoons corn flour (like Maseca brand) mixed into 1 cup of warm water until smooth
8 (or more) 2-ounce bags Fritos corn chips
Optional garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, diced red onion, sliced jalapeños, sour cream
1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeños, garlic, ½ tablespoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook and stir without browning until tender.
2. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, chipotle powder, sugar, adobo sauce, and cumin. Season with remaining salt and pepper, or to taste.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add brisket and mix in the corn flour slurry. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or longer, stirring often to keep the meat from scorching on the bottom. Stir
in more broth or water if it becomes too thick.
Assemble: Cut open a 2-ounce bag of Fritos from the top or side, ladle chili over Fritos, and add desired garnishes. Or, pour Fritos into bowls and follow the steps above.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
This article originally appeared in our September 2013 issue.