Love Is Like A Frito Pie

I had some very special guests coming over this past Wednesday and so I spent the weekend before that trying to figure out what to make. My first destination was the top shelf of my cookbook collection, where, as you now know, I keep the books I’m most excited to cook from these days. The book that I reached for was Nancy Silverton’s Mozza at Home which, I’ve come to believe, is Nancy Silverton’s best cookbook.

I own all of Nancy’s books–from her iconic Breads from the La Brea Bakery to The Food of Campanile (which she wrote with her then-husband, Mark Peel)–but this one is really geared towards the home cook, much more so than the others. Sure, it’s nice to know how she makes her sourdough bread (and I made that recipe once from Breads from the La Brea Bakery, almost a decade ago, creating a wild yeast starter with grapes and flour and water in an open Tupperware container… my roommate Lauren wasn’t thrilled), but it’s even better to know how she feeds her actual friends who are coming over for dinner. And as I flipped through the pages, I suddenly found my answer in the least likely recipe you’d ever expect to find in a Nancy Silverton cookbook: her version of Dean Fearing’s Frito Pie.

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Lisa Fain’s Seven Chile Chili

sevenchilechili

There are two chili recipes in Lisa Fain’s incredible and indispensable new “Homesick Texan Cookbook.” The first is, according to Fain, “an all-day affair,” a real-deal Texas chili (that means no beans) that requires careful shopping (seven different chiles–anhcho, pasilla, guajillo, chipotle, chiles de arbol, cayenne, and pequin–are employed) and five hours of simmering on the stove. The second chili is a one-hour chili for those who “don’t have the time or the patience to wait for a hearty bowl of red.”

As I considered these two chilis last Friday I had to ask myself some tough questions. Was I going to take the wimpy way out and do the one-hour chili? Or would I man up and face the challenge and make the intimidating, time-consuming, costly, and dirty-dish causing Seven Chile Chili? Two chilis diverged before me and readers, I’m proud to say, I chose the chili less traveled by. Here’s how it all went down.

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