This year Joe and I have gone to several fall festivals around town.  We’ve been to Irish Fest, the Plaza Art Fair and Old Settlers Day.  It’s a great way to spend a day at any of these events.  We’ve had some great festival food which got me craving a NM favorite Frito Pie.  Frito Pie is a staple at most festivals in NM.  We eat it straight from the bag and the chili has to be New Mexican. It’s traditionally served with grated cheese and onions upon request.  When I make it for myself, I like to add some shredded lettuce and diced tomato to the mix.  It’s Muy Bueno!  I’d like to give a shout out to the ladies at the Desert Rose Center in downtown Tucumcari, thank you for the beautiful Route 66 swatch of material.  It goes perfect with my NM Frito Pie!


My red chile sauce is adapted from “The Food of Santa Fe”.  It has the best recipes for all traditional NM food. The red chile starts with 12 dried New Mexico red chiles, a medium chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, a teaspoon Mexican oregano, water and salt to taste.


Arrange the chiles flat on a baking sheet and place in a 250 degree oven just long enough for them to become aromatic, maybe 7 – 10 minutes.  Be careful not to let them go too long or they may burn.


Once the chiles have toasted, place them in a medium sized saucepan and cover with very hot water.  Place a lid on top and steep for 20 minutes.  I should have removed the stems and seeds first, but forgot.  Once they steeped, I took care of the stems and seeds.


A few seeds escaped back into the water but that’s okay.


In a large skillet, saute the onions with a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat.  When they begin to soften and become translucent, add the garlic and cook for a minute more.


Instead of adding water, I strained 2 cups of chile water and added some chicken base to make a more flavorful broth.


Add the soaked chiles and chile broth to the pan.


Add a teaspoon of Mexican oregano.  Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.


Pour all the ingredients in a blender.


Puree until smooth.  It will be appear thick.


Strain the peel and seeds.


This makes about 2 cups of the most beautiful red chile sauce.  I waited until the sauce was strained before adding salt.  Salt to taste.


Time to put together the rest of the chile.  Brown 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef in a dutch oven.


As the beef begins to brown, add the diced onion and garlic to the mix.  Stir the pot while everything cooks together.


Add some epizote, coriander and Mexican oregano.


Pour the NM red chile sauce (about 2 cups) into the ground beef mix.


Looking good so far, stir and stir!


Add 1 1/2 cups of beef broth with 1/4 cup flour.


Pour in the thickened beef broth and simmer for 10 minutes.


If you can find small bags of Fritos this is the traditional way to serve a Frito Pie.  Cut the side of the bag to open up the middle.  Or you can place a handful of Fritos in a bowl and top with chile and cheese.


Ladle chile over Frito’s.


And top with grated cheese and onion if you like.


Or if you’re like me, add some grated lettuce, tomato and onion.  It’s so good!


New Mexico Frito Pie

1 1/2 pounds Ground Beef
l medium Onion, diced
1 clove Garlic, grated on a microplane grater
1 teaspoon Epizote
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
2 cups NM Red Chile Sauce, recipe follows
1 1/2 cups Beef Broth, I used 1 1/2 cups water combined with 1 1/2 teaspoons “Better Than Bouillon” Beef Base
1/4 cup Flour
Small Bags of Fritos
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Shredded Lettuce, Diced Tomato, Diced Onion, optional

Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat and drizzle with olive oil.  Add ground beef and as it begins to brown add the diced onion and garlic to the mix.  Stir the pot while everything cooks together.  When the beef has browned and the onions appear translucent, add the epizote, coriander and Mexican oregano to the mixture.  Whisk together 1 1/2 cups Beef Broth with 1/4 cup flour.   Add the chile sauce and beef broth.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

To serve, use scissors to slit frito bags on the side.  Open the bag and ladle chile over fritos.  Top with grated cheddar cheese.  Add any lettuce, tomato or onion if desired.

NM Red Chile Sauce (adapted from “The Food of Santa Fe”)

12 dried New Mexico Red Chiles
1 medium Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, grated on a microplane grater
Water, to cover chiles
2 Cups Chicken Stock or 2 cups strained Chile Water combined with 2 teaspoons “Better Than Bouillon” Chicken Base
1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
Salt to taste

Arrange chile pods on a baking sheet and place in a 250 degree oven for 7 – 10 minutes, or until the chiles become aromatic.  Be careful not to burn.  Remove stems and seeds and place pods in a saucepan.

Cover the chiles with hot water and allow them to steep for 20 minutes.  Remove from pan but reserve water.  Strain the water and add 2 teaspoons “Better than Bouillon” Chicken Base.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, drizzle olive oil and saute onion, garlic and Mexican oregano.  Saute onions until they appear soft and translucent.  Add the chiles and the reserved chile water (broth)  and simmer for 10 minutes.

Place all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Strain the mixture for a smooth sauce.

If the sauce is too thin, place back on the stove and simmer until it is reduced to the desired consistency.  If too thick, add more water or broth.  Salt to taste.

Makes approximately 2 cups of sauce