There are few things I feel I can't live without. I've always preferred living in my wee studio apartment over larger digs - a move that really saved my bacon when I was laid off. I live by the philosophy that I rather have a little of something really good than a lot of something just so-so. I happily live a car free life (with the occasional Zipcar reservation) & even prefer to travel (internationally) with little more than backpack, so when I say I have to have something I mean it! I need Dirty Frank's.
Since moving to Philly over 10 years ago, I have not lived more than 3 blocks from, in my opinion, the best dive bar in Philadelphia - Dirty Frank's. There was a very short period when I moved away for about a month and a half. In that time the house I was living in flooded, my housemate went nuts, I skinned my knee, and a friend was diagnosed with cancer. I am not saying living further than 3 blocks from Dirty Frank's causes cancer, but why take chances. I quickly moved back to the neighborhood and normalcy returned... coincident? Maybe, maybe not, but who am I to question it?
Frank's is not your typical dive bar. They have an every changing art gallery on the wall showing and selling the works of local artists. They have a bank of books patrons are free to enjoy. And year round events for everyone. One of the events is the annual Comfort Food Cook Off. Although it is a competition, it feels more like an awesome pot luck. The winner takes home the giant stainless steel spork & runner ups walk away with a choice bottle of wine.
A couple of years ago I entered a turkey pot pie that was enjoyed by many. Last year I worked on a bacon mac & cheese, but got the flu right before the cook off. I figured no one would want to eat food served by a girl with a runny noses and hacking cough, so I sat that one out. That gave me a whole year to come up with a comfort food that would knock their socks off. The answer... FRITO PIE!
For those not familiar with this delicacy, it is chili served in individual Frito corn chip bags. It is the official food of summer camps & trailer parks across this great nation. Many people at the event had never even heard of Frito Pie, but one taste got them hooked. My chili was flavorful without being too spicy to appeal to the most people. Everyone who tried it loved it & even wrote in as much on their ballots... and the presentation was also a big winner. Unfortunately I didn't actually win in the end. I think my chances were hurt that I ran out of chili pretty early, so I didn't get any votes in the latter half of the event. It would have been nice to win, but it was still lots of fun and I got to enjoy lots of good food. There were a couple mac & cheeses, shepard's pie (the big winner), amazing flourless chocolate cake & peanut butter ice cream, my fave, the homemade pierogies (they even made me up a little to-go pack of them!), and a bunch of other dishes.
Inspired by the crowd's reaction to it, I'm going to be re-entering my Frito Pie in the Annual Chili Cook Off on March 24th. Because I am entering it an up-coming event, I am going to hold off on posting my chili recipe. But don't let that stop you from making Frito Pies!
1 pot of your favorite chili (my recipe to come)
as many individual Original Frito Corn Chip bags as you want/need
plastic spoons/sporks (optional)
Open a bag of Fritos. Gently crush the chips in the bag (if you don't open the bag first it will pop and you'll have corn chips everywhere). Spoon in some chili into the bag. Mix the chili with the Fritos and...