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Frito Pie with Smoked Salmorejo
Recipe adapted from Josef Centeno, Bar Ama, Los Angeles
Yield: 4 servings (with leftover chile powder)
3 dried ancho chiles
3 dried chipotle chiles
3 dried guajillo chiles
1 teaspoons citric salt
3 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 ripe tomatoes
½ medium white onion
1 jalapeño or serrano chile
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped (seeded for less heat)
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Juice from 2 limes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Chili con Carne
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
1½ pounds 80/20 ground beef
5 medium tomatoes, grated on the large hole side of a box grater
2 bunches fresh cilantro, leaves finely chopped and stems discarded
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups Fritos® Corn Chips
½ cup grated queso fresco cheese
½ cup grated Colby cheese
¼ cup crumbled Cotija cheese
Sour cream (optional)
1. Make the chile powder: Preheat the oven to its lowest setting (ours was 170°). In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the dried ancho, chipotle and guajillo chiles and cook, shaking the pan often, until the chiles are fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a baking sheet and dry in the oven until brittle, about 20 minutes for the chipotle and guajillo chiles and 35 minutes for the ancho chiles. Remove the chiles from the oven, cool, then set them on a cutting board. Stem the chiles and shake out the seeds. Add the chiles to a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and pulverize until fine. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the citric salt.
2. Char the vegetables for the salmorejo: Preheat the oven to 500°. On a rimmed baking sheet, place the tomatillos, tomatoes, onion half and the jalapeño, drizzle with the olive oil and roast in the oven until the vegetables are blistered, about 20 minutes (the tomatoes may need to stay in a little longer; if so, use tongs to transfer the charred vegetables to a baking sheet and continue to roast the tomatoes until charred). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Once cool, place the charred vegetables and the chipotle chiles in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to finely chop, about five 1-second pulses. Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh sieve and use a rubber spatula to press down on the mixture to extract the moisture (discard the liquid). Add the cilantro, lime juice and salt.
3. Make the chili con carne: In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the onion, carrot and garlic. Cook until the onion is soft and the garlic fragrant, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the ground beef and cook until it starts to brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan, then stir in 2 tablespoons of the chile powder (store the rest in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry spot for up to 6 months), the grated tomatoes and chopped cilantro and cook until thick and saucy, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper.
4. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large cast-iron skillet or baking dish, add the corn chips. Spoon the chili con carne over the chips and sprinkle with the queso fresco, Colby and Cotija cheeses. Bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and spoon some smoked salmorejo on top. Serve with a dollop of sour cream (if using), either in the skillet or divided among 4 bowls.