Woolworth’s Frito Pie

A Cult Classic

I was watching The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network last night with my daughter, Zoe. One of the chef’s favorite things is Frito Pie. She was very intrigued. I remember eating it as a child. One of the best ways to eat it, however, is to pour the chili right into a mini bag of Fritos and top with cheese. This is a great thing to eat if you are out at a football game somewhere cold.

As to the origin, some say Frito Pie was invented at Woolworth’s in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Corporate lore at Frito-Lay, however, say that Daisy Dean Doolin, mother of the guy who first bought the rights to market Fritos in 1932, not only perfected her son’s product, but also made it into a dish as a way to help market the crispy fried corn chips.

Woolworth’s Frito Pie

Serves 4

2 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
2 Tbs chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
1/3 cup tomato paste
1½ cup water (more if necessary)
1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
5 cups Fritos corn chips
½ lb Cheddar or Monterey jack, shredded
Optional: chopped onion and diced fresh jalapenos for garnish

Cook bacon in heavy skillet until fat is rendered. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened.

Add ground chuck and cook over medium high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour off excess fat and add salt, chili powder, cumin, and tomato paste.

Slowly add water and simmer 10 min, adding more water if necessary. Add beans until heated through.

Divide corn chips among individual wide shallow bowls, top with chili. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Garnish with onion and jalapeno if desired.


One thought on “Woolworth’s Frito Pie

  1. MANNNNNY YEARS AGO – I’d say 45 years ago – I used to eat Frito pie at the Woolworths in Santa Fe. It was pretty good, but I’ve had better! However, the ambience was fantastic! Miss Santa Fe’s Woolworths!

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