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From My Kitchen: Frito Casserole

Classic Frito pie is just a bag of Fritos topped with chili. This version is a bit more involved, but it's still extremely simple to throw together, and tastes delicious. The amount of spices given below is an approximation; I usually just toss them in until the chicken looks well seasoned. I cook the spices with the chicken for a couple of minutes to tame the harshness of the chili powder and bring out the full flavor of the spices. Preheating the chicken and beans also means the casserole spends less time in the oven.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

10 oz. bag Fritos Original corn chips
10 oz. can white meat chicken, drained
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dry oregano leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
16 oz. can refried beans, any flavor (zesty, vegetarian, original, etc.)
8 oz. jar salsa or picante sauce, any variety
4 oz. can diced green chilis (not jalapeƱos)
2.25 oz. can sliced black olives, drained
12 oz. bag shredded cheese (Mexican, cheddar, colby/jack, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a deep (at least 4 inches) casserole dish with nonstick spray. Pour approximately one-third of the Fritos into the bottom of the casserole, and smush them down slightly with your knuckles. They don't have to be flat; just break them enough so that they're not all sticking up.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, combine the chicken, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder. Mix well, breaking up the large chunks and coating the chicken well with the spices. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until spices are fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside in a medium bowl.

In the same skillet (no need to clean it), combine refried beans and salsa. Stir until hot and combined, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drop half of the bean mixture over the top of the Fritos in the casserole dish, in dollops. Try to get even coverage, but don't worry if the chips aren't completely covered; the beans will spread out in the oven. Spread half of the chicken mixture over the beans, as evenly as possible. Sprinkle half of the green chilis and half of the black olives over the chicken. Spread half of the cheese over the top. Reserve a couple of handfuls of the Fritos for garnish; pour the rest over the top of the cheese (crushing in your hands as you drop them in). Repeat the layering of the beans, chicken, chilis, olives, and cheese.

Cover the dish with foil, or its lid if it has one, and bake 35 minutes. Crush the reserved Fritos into small bits, and then sprinkle over the top of the casserole for garnish. Delicious as is, and it only gets better if you add sour cream, guacamole, and/or fresh salsa.



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