Friday, June 5, 2009

Kitchen Klutz: Behold the all-out freakiness that is Frito Pie!

**Note: Check back Monday for this Frito Pie recipe!

By Michèle De Meglio

For some reason, there’s two words that I find strange, a bit disgusting, but still completely compelling. Frito pie.

I first heard about the beloved Texas dish (beloved in Texas anyway) a few years ago on one of those "Diary" specials on MTV. You know, where Jennifer Love who-gives-a-hoot gobbled the grub to prove that she may have $500 hair extensions and $600 stilettos but she’s still a cowgirl at heart.

My teenage-self watched the pixie devour a messy mixture of chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalapeños and, of course, those salty Fritos. For a final flourish, the dish was served in a sliced open Fritos bag.

I watched in shock and awe as the seemingly starving starlet lingered over every bile-inducing (in my mind anyway) bite as if it were her last forkful, forever.

I blocked the disturbing memory out of my young mind and managed to survive the last few years with the help of my supportive local pizza joint.

But I was shaken to the core a few weeks ago when I discovered the same Frito hodgepodge on the menu of a Manhattan barbecue joint. This time, I allowed myself to be mesmerized by the thought of the gooey glob and admitted that eventually, I would have a showdown with my culinary nemesis.

So for this week’s Kitchen Klutz adventure, I decided to give the savory pie a shot — with a few conditions.

First, no jalapeños. I’m not a big spicy fan.

Second, no sour cream. A big white ball of fluff just looks unappealing.

Third, sloppy joe meat instead of chili. My childhood aversion to beans (and those awful chickpeas!) continues.

So with my stipulations and several different recipes printed from the Internet, I was ready to cook.

The dish seemed simple enough. To start, brown the meat in a frying pan (but don’t scream in fear of popping grease like I did). Then, fill a baking dish with a layer of the corn chips. Top that with onions and grated cheese. Add the meat, then follow with generous portions of Fritos, onions and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and prepare for a true Lone Star State experience.

Verdict: It looked nasty, smelled nasty and tasted nasty. There was no cohesive dish here, just a gobbledegook glop of salty meat and even saltier Fritos. I barely made it through the first bite. But hey, at least I kept it down.

Have a recipe for the Kitchen Klutz? Want to share a tip? Send 'em to

(Published in the 6.4.09 issue of 24/Seven)

Kitchen Klutz follows 20-something Michèle De Meglio as she burns casseroles and her fingers, all in hope of trading frozen dinners for home cooking.


Anonymous,  June 4, 2009 at 11:37 PM  

Mmm - cut me off a slice of that Frito-pie, KK.

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