This was such a hit in Cravings that I had to include it here. John’s chili tastes like the kind that simmers on the stove forever, but it’s done start-to-finish in an hour. Frito pies aren’t pies at all—they’re cute little bags of corn chips you fill up with said chili and all of the fixings. The joy is eating some of the chips while they’re still crisp, but the real deal is waiting for the chips to get soaked in that chili goodness, creating a Frito cornbread-chili mush that is only slightly crunchy but completely delicious.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons seasoning salt, such as Lawry’s
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 6 (1-ounce) bags Fritos corn chips
- John’s Chili (recipe above)
- Cheesy Guacamole
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
- ½ cup sliced pickled jalapeño peppers
- 4 scallions, chopped
Make the chili:
Heat a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add the ground beef, onion, mushrooms, seasoning salt, chili powder, and cayenne. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms release their liquid and the meat is no longer pink, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.
Add 2 cups water, the tomato sauce, kidney beans, and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chili thickens and the liquid reduces slightly, 35 to 40 minutes. The chili tastes better the longer you let the flavors mingle.
Set up the Frito pie bar:
Using scissors, carefully cut open the tops of the Frito’s bags to create pouches. Ladle chili over the chips, then top with guacamole, and any or all condiments in the amounts you like.
(The recipe for John’s Chili makes a lot, so whatever doesn’t get used for in the Fritos bags, save to eat as a meal).