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Tamale and Frito Pie

This four-ingredient recipe makes a great Tex-Mex treat just as it's written here. But I bet you're already thinking about what ingredients you could add to make it more interesting. Chopped onion and black olives immediately come to mind.

You can tell at first glance this recipe is at least several years old because it calls for a 1-pound can of chili. Canned chili is convenient, and Wolf Brand (no beans) is pretty good, but they along with everybody else have reduced their one-pound cans to 15 ounces (see Note). Also, depending on where you live, it may be difficult to get your hands on good tamales. Frozen tamales are available at some Costo stores, and many Mexican and Central American restaurants nationwide sell "take-out" tamales. If frozen tamales in the shuck are used, thaw them before using. Frozen tamales are preferable to canned tamales. Good tamales and chili make all the difference in this dish but, like I said, even if you put it together quickly with canned chili and canned tamales, it's a good, warming dish.

If you want to double the recipe, use a 9x13-inch dish.

  • 1 can (1 pound) chili or about 3 cups homemade chili
  • 2 cups regular size Fritos
  • 6 tamales, removed from the corn husks
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers, shredded
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 7x11-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Heat the chili in a saucepan just until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat. Lightly crumble the Fritos (don't make Frito dust) and spread in the baking dish. Place the tamales on top of the Fritos with a little space between each one. Cover with the hot chili.

Bake uncovered 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese and bake 5 to 10 minutes more, until the cheese melts and the mixture is bubbly.

Yields 2 to 4 servings.

Note: With all the fuss that goes on about politics during election season ("Where is the outrage? etc.), I want to know where the outrage is when food companies high handedly shrink product sizes. Not only is it sneaky and unfair, it really messes with time-honored recipes that call for specific amounts based on product sizes people have depended on for generations. Example: Six-ounce canned tuna is now five ounces. Where's it going to end? Will eleven be the new dozen? I say, where's the outrage!?

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