Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Missing You: Frito Pie & Comfort Food

A good friend of mine, who spent his formative years in Paris, Texas, always resorted to making Frito Pie when he was sad or the chips were down. He isn't around any more, or I know he'd make it for us tonight. A basic chili was one of the few foods he could actually cook, and cook well, and he would make Frito Pie for as many people as were hanging around his kitchen on a bad day. That, and beer always cheered us up. It is very, very good. I miss him.

This morning, my sister-in-law and friend, Cammi, a funny, kind and feisty woman, lost her very short fight with cancer. She had so much life to live yet, that it makes me angry. We were planning to be cranky old women together. Loss. Another 4-letter word. Miss. Another one. My husband never thought he'd outlive his baby sister. Cancer is a bitch. We miss you.

I am in no mood to cook tonight; the day has been all phone calls and Chuck looks worn out. Comfort, though, is in the form of a dish of leftover chili from Friday's blog post "Some Like it Not Hot Chili" made into Frito Pie. To us Yankees, this isn't a "pie", it's more like a nacho eaten with a fork. But this isn't about us, it's about those who've gone before us and comforting ourselves as best we can.

I've just made a market run for a bag of Fritos. Frito Pie isn't really a recipe, although you'll often see it in recipe form, starting the chili from scratch. Just be sure to use Fritos. Nothing else will do.

While the Fritos are NOT optional, you can vary the toppings at will or whim. The bacon topping was the Texan's personal claim to fame.

Comfort food. Frito Pie...and beer.

The Guy from Paris, Texas's Frito Pie
Serves 4

6 cups Homemade chili (See last Friday's Post)
1 big bag Fritos Corn Chips

1/2 cup chopped onion or scallion
1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1-1/2 shredded cheddar or jack cheese
1 cup crisp-cooked crumbled bacon
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro or parsley

Heat the chili until piping hot. Place a handful of Fritos on each dish, and ladle or spoon the chili on top. Add as many of the toppings as you want, although in our house, cheese is NEVER optional. If there are Fritos leftover, toss some on top of the toppings. Goes best with beer, iced tea and a heart that needs cheering.

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