There's Just No Explaining Comfort Food
November 29, 2008

With most of my readers stuffed to the gills with turkey these past few days, I thought I'd share one of my most favourite recipes ever - one that does NOT include any turkey of any type.

Having grown up primarily in Texas, chili was actually not one of my favourite meals because I was not fond of my mother's midwestern version of the dish. She used stewed tomatoes, which many folks use, but I happen to hate. In addition, there was no heat to any of mom's cooking, and I have to admit, I love the heat. Her chili was really more of an odd hamburger and tomato soup to me.

And then dad brought home some Wolf Brand Chili.

Yeah, I know. It looks a lot like dog food. But the truth of the matter was it was a better style of chili for me. It wasn't long after this discovery that I also discovered a little side dish at Sonic: Frito Pie.

Now, at Sonic, they took one of those little red and white paper "baskets" that they served french fries in, they sprinkled some Fritos in there, spooned some good chili over the top and then decked it off with shredded cheese and some onions.

Absolute heaven to me.

Today, sadly, Sonic has totally screwed up their Frito Pie and turned it into a freaking WRAP! As if it needed to be wrapped up in a tortilla. WTF?

Anyhow, some midwesterners (and others) know this as a "walking taco" ... made in a single serving Frito bag instead of in a little paper basket.

Out of curiosity and helpfulness, I decided to look up an official Frito Pie recipe to share with my Twitter buddies down in NOLA. (That's New Orleans, Lousiana ... but I just like saying NOLA, so that's what I type now.)

The best article talks about the start of Fritos ... a story I found pretty interesting. I don't know what the secret is to Fritos over other similar corn chips, but there's a very distinct difference - and when making a Frito Pie, I guarantee you'll notice a difference even if you can't tell the typical corn chip from the Frito under normal situations.

Fritos were originally "invented" in the 1930s, in San Antonio. Eventually they were moved up to Dallas.

Without further ado, here's the best "recipe" for Frito Pie ... found at (with of course, my variations)

  • most of a bag of Fritos corn chips
  • half a chopped red onion
  • 1 package shredded cheese - I prefer the Mexican blend with queso blanco y asadero cheeses
  • 1 can of Hormel hot chili with no beans
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pour about half the bag into a baking dish. Sprinkle about half the cheese and about half the onions in next. Dump in the chili and top off with more cheese and onions.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.

Now here's the odd thing. (I mean if you don't think Frito Pie is odd enough.) If you do the same thing but make it in the microwave? It's not as filling nor as good. I do NOT understand how it is more filling if you bake it instead, but I no longer make this in the microwave after discovering the baked version. I can fairly easily polish this meal off on my own if I microwave it. (My other half thinks this is one of the most disgusting concoctions ever - even worse than guacamole.) But, if I bake it, I can barely eat a quarter of it.

So, there you have it. One of my favourite comfort foods.

(And, Sonic, if you're reading this ... ditch the damned Frito Pie wrap and bring it back the way it's supposed to be!)

Posted by Red Monkey at November 29, 2008 12:24 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Tara R. said:

That does sound great. I love the walking Frito pie too, and no, it just not the same with some other corn chip.

November 30, 2008 5:02 PM


PandoraWilde said:

Try explaining lefse (Scandinavian flat bread made with potatoes and baked on a special flat iron, resulting in a soft rollable flat bread) to anyone NOT from Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Michigan was hell in many ways.

December 2, 2008 6:53 PM
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