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Southern Delicacy: Frito Pie

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It has been awhile, but we’re excited to welcome y’all back to the Southern Delicacy series! It’s no secret that one of the great claims to fame/bragging rights of the South is our cuisine, and from our mama’s cooking to the many iconic eateries below the Mason-Dixon, it’s certainly something to celebrate. Take a look here to see our past Southern Delicacy posts, but be warned–don’t look while hungry!

Today’s topic may be considered more specifically a Texas delicacy than a Southern delicacy, but we love it all the same! Frito pie is a staple of Texas sporting stadiums and tailgates, and consists of Fritos chips, chili, onions, and cheese. As Michael Hilton said in the November 1986 issue of Texas Monthly, “Frito pie is a marriage made in heaven…If you want to get technical, Fritos absorb grease, and good chili has a lot of grease. Furthermore, the Frito retains its crispness even when chock-full of grease. The Frito has integrity.” The classic way to serve is to simply rip open a bag of Fritos, layer the other ingredients on top, and eat it straight from the bag, but we’re partial to the slightly more dinner table-appropriate casserole dish versions.

Brown Eyed Baker, Bev Cooks

The exact origins of frito pie are unknown, with two legends competing for credit. One story says that the recipe was created by Daisy Dean Doolin, the mother of Frito-Lay founder, Elmer Doolin, who had supposedly been cooking up frito pie since fritos themselves originated. The other story credits the recipe to Teresa Hernandez, an employee at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who claims to have come up with the recipe in the 1960’s. Woolworth’s (now called Five and Dime General Store) proudly serves frito pie to this day.

Burger via Confections of a Foodie Bride, grilled cheese via Taste Spotting

Frito pie may not be the best fit for a black tie, ballroom wedding, but at a more casual celebration, we especially love it as a late night snack. Set up a frito pie bar so everyone can add their favorite toppings themselves, or serve pre-assembled and passed out to guests. After working up an appetite on the dance floor, we imagine they’d be delighted to indulge in this savory treat!

Jake Holt via Southern Weddings, Stacey E. Photography via BZ Events

Have you ever had frito pie? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it? I’ve only had it in a paper bowl at a baseball game, but I must say, I’m intrigued by the frito pie burger pictured above!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa Hays reply

    As a suburban Dallas mom – of course I’ve served it :). My family loves it. You just gave me a thought – might serve it at my sons’ pre-wedding party where I’m planning a Boots -n- Barbecue theme to welcome his fiancé’s NY family to Texas for the nuptials.

  2. avatar Dana reply

    forgot how much i love fritos…must buy some!

  3. avatar Jenn reply

    I grew up on Frito Pie! As a small town Texas girl, I had one every Friday night in high school. I sold concessions for Leo Club and my teacher/sponsor always saved some for us kids. It always tastes best when your team wins, but is a fine comfort when the game goes south.
    To this day, a football game just doesn’t seem right without Frito Pie.
    Thanks for posting, ladies!

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Mmm, y’all! With the unofficial start of summer (and official start of white pants season!), I’m ready for all the delicious delicacies that come with a Southern summer. Think tall glasses of sweet tea (or an Arnold Palmer in my case) with a side of deviled eggs or some fresh cut watermelon by the lake! Are you drooling yet?

If not, just wait a few seconds, because today we’re chatting about one of my personal favorites, fried green tomatoes!

Fried green tomatoes (the food, not the movie – though the movie did take place in the South!) are a common side dish around these parts made from unripe (green) tomatoes coated with cornmeal and fried.

Traditionally, FGTs are made by cutting the tomatoes into thick (about 1/2-inch) slices then seasoning them with salt and pepper (or a bit of crushed red pepper flakes and garlic powder for our friends ’round the Bayou!). Then they are coated with plain, coarse cornmeal, and shallow fried in bacon fat for a few minutes each side, or until golden brown. (P.S. Shallow frying is preferred, as the tomatoes do not float in the oil.)

How Sweet It Is

Another option when frying green tomatoes is to prep the tomatoes with a “wash.” In this case, the sliced tomatoes are dipped into buttermilk, or occasionally a beaten egg, before they are ‘rolled’ in the cornmeal. Using a beaten egg makes for a slightly firmer texture than using buttermilk. While not always necessary, adding this dip before the cornmeal helps it stay in place during the frying process.

My favorite little nugget about fried green tomatoes? Apparently this delicacy originated when Southerners were forced to remove some of the tomatoes from the vine while still green to allow the rest to mature to the traditional red — the Southern growing season is so prolific that otherwise, the plant would collapse under the weight of all that fruit! Obviously, the next logical step was to fry up the bounty.

As you can see, traditionally prepared fried green tomatoes have that fall-off-the-fruit look that definitely would be divine for a rehearsal dinner or newlywed dinner party!

Katrina Runs for Food, Southern Living, Family Circle, Eric Kelley via Southern Weddings

So you want to get fancy with your FTGs? We’ve got you! I think the caprese salad made with fried green tomatoes would be a showstopper at any dinner party I was invited to!

Oven-fried green tomato caprese stacks by How Sweet It Is, fried green tomato po’boy and BLT slider from Southern Living

And y’all know us! We can’t sneak away without including a few (mini) options fit for a wedding! I know Mrs. Thomas is just dying over the baby-sized bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato sliders! Who wouldn’t? Not to mention I’m all about the abbreviation on the sign – way too fun!

BLFGT sliders photo by The Nichols via Southern Weddings, individual fried green tomatoes photo by Adam Barnes via Southern Weddings, mini fried green tomato bites by Blue Plate Chicago

Y’all, I’m embarrassed to admit that this true-blue Southern girl has never even attempted to make fried green tomatoes… although I’ve eaten my fair share! I’m thinking this recipe might be my best bet. But, I also love this healthier version as well!

Have you tried your hand at homemade FGT’s? Or do you have a fabulous recipe for someone who is a bit culinarily challenged? I’d love it if you’d share it with me!

Adam Barnes is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Kayleigh reply

    This looks so delicious. My favorite fried green tomato dish I’ve ever had was blackened FGT with goat cheese and a balsamic drizzle, similar to the caprese dish above.

  2. avatar Tracy reply

    I grew up in the south; my mom always dipped the sliced tomatoes in buttermilk, followed by dipping in flour that has your choice of seasoning stirred into it (salt, pepper, paprika, etc.). Then fried to a light golden brown on both sides in a skillet. She also claims that a green tomato that has just a slight little bit of pink to it but that is still firm works best. Guess that is why I by far prefer the lighter flour battered version versus cornmeal batter. To each his own, I certainly would not turn down a fgt because it was battered with cornmeal!!

  3. avatar Denis reply

    Mamma mia, looks so yummy! Love x

  4. avatar Anna (Lover.ly) reply

    I am IN LOVE with fried green tomatoes! I can’t find any as good as the ones I’ve had in Memphis. It’s a hard life looking for these delights in NYC! Thanks so much for sharing (and reigniting my search for the perfect fried green tomato!)

  5. avatar Parker reply

    My mouth is officially watering! I love posts like these!

    Being from {very, very South} Mississippi, there are so many ways to make FGTs! One very easy way is to slice the tomato, dip in egg (butter even works at times!), then roll in italian breadcrumbs. I fry mine in a very shallow layer of olive oil and they are divine!

    I may have to whip some up tonight for supper! :)

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I have fond memories of going through the Krispy Kreme drive-through for a special treat as a little girl. Of course, it was even more special if the “hot donuts” sign was on! I even went on a field trip to my local store once to see how those divine donuts were made (yes, that’s what we do in the South!).

As I grew up, I frequented the store less. That is, until I began working for a large corporate company a few years back – then, it became a tradition for a few of the girls and I to celebrate successes on our lunch hour with a little Krispy Kreme indulgence! What can I say? They’re addicting!

Then I lived in Winston Salem last summer, and had to pass Krispy Kreme’s headquarters on a daily basis. Talk about an exercise in self-restraint! Let’s just say when it comes to this Southern Delicacy, I’ve eaten my fair share.

The Scultzes via Southern Weddings

A few fun facts:
Krispy Kreme was founded by Vernon Rudolph in 1937 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
— Rudolph bought the secret recipe for yeast-raised doughnuts from a New Orleans French chef.
— While Krispy Kreme sells an assortment of flavors, their signature glazed doughnut (traditionally served warm!) continues to be a best seller and customer favorite.
— Krispy Kreme is a part of not only Southern culture, but American history! Some company artifacts have been donated to the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History.
— People like to get creative with their Krispy Kremes! The Krispy Kreme Challenge began as a dare between a few NC State students in 2004. Eight years later, runners still try to complete the entire five mile course AND eat a box of 12 Krispy Kreme donuts in under one hour. Whoa!

Bella Grace Studios via Southern Weddings, Whitebox Weddings via Southern Weddings

We love the idea of serving these sugary delights in lieu of a groom’s cake, as a late night snack, or as a favor for guests to take on the road. Yum!

Before you go, I wanted to share one more delicious-looking treat. While prepping this post, the awesome Ms Ayer came across a recipe for Krispy Krème Brûlée! What?!

Even if you want to get fancy with your Krispy Kremes, we’ve got you covered. Did you or will you be serving a late night snack at your wedding? If so, will it be these delightful treats? And, if you’ve participated in NCSU’s Krispy Kreme Challenge, you must comment and tell us how it went!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
18 Comments
  1. avatar Peggy reply

    You should try grilling them – oh my, how yummy!

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Woohoo for Winston Salem! As a proud WFU demon deacon, I especially loved this post and thoroughly enjoy my proximity to Krispy Kreme headquarters :) Every year my sorority hosts a meet and greet with new freshmen featuring this Southern treat. We call it Krispy Kreme with Kappa – it’s always so cute!

  3. avatar Laura reply

    We’re not going to make our guests wait until late to get their Krispy Kreme fix. They’ll be ready and waiting on the dessert buffet table!

  4. avatar Jessica reply

    I love that you posted about Krispy Kreme! I’ve lived in Winston-Salem for the past 12 years so I’ve grown up with these goodies- even my high school’s gym was named the Krispy Kreme Athletic Center! I think it would be super fun to serve their doughnut holes on sticks (like cake pops) in a dessert bar or during the bridal brunch.

    • avatar Marissa reply

      How funny! I loved Winston – we lived downtown in the Piedmont Leaf Lofts and it was great!!

    • avatar Jessica reply

      Marissa: That’s awesome! I love downtown Winston, I have an internship there now with Rebecca Rose Events and it’s so much fun to be in the middle of the city. Oh, and one of my cousins coincidentally shared a link with me about an hour ago about Krispy Kreme cupcakes! They sound tasty and could be a cute twist to the traditional donut: http://www.bforbel.com/2011/12/krispy-kreme-cupcakes.html

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Thanks, Jessica! What a fun twist! Enjoy Winston! Be sure to catch a Dash game or two! xx

  5. avatar Amanda reply

    I ran the KKC about 3 years ago and it was a blast!!! I was starving from not having eaten breakfast so by the time I got to Krispy Kreme it was easy to down about 10 hot doughnuts!! I’m embarassed I could eat that many but I wanted to push myself and try!! Plus when they’re hot, omg.. The run back was pretty bad, the worst was when you finished running and just stopped. Whew that was tough!!! I’m getting married in November though and we were discussing having them in our Wedding Welcome Bags! I recently blogged about our NC welcome bags including Krispy Kreme, Moravian Cookies, Cheerwine and Peanuts!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Holy cow, Amanda! I’m giving you a big high five for doing the KKC! I def think the hard part would be the run back and NOT the eating of the donuts! : )

    • avatar Laura reply

      Amanda, I’ve been trying to think of different ideas for our NC-themed welcome bags. I knew Cheerwine was a must (when else can outsiders enjoy this delicacy?!), but I love the Moravian cookie idea. We’re getting married in Greensboro, so we have easy access to them :)

  6. avatar Allyson reply

    I love the idea of Krispy Kremes instead of a grooms cake!

  7. avatar Janna reply

    Yum! I remember taking family trips on a Saturday afternoon to get a hot Krispy Kreme now and selling them my senior year as a fundraiser! We still pick up a dozen on mornings of football games! Go Gators!

    There is a place here in Orlando- 4Rivers- that uses the Krispy Kremes for their bread pudding- simply wonderful and definitely an every one and a while treat to be shared!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Ha! I sold them my senior year as a fundraiser, too! Good times :)

    • avatar Stacy reply

      Janna: I remember waking up every Saturday morning and there would be a Krispy Kreme donut waiting for me that my dad had picked up early in the morning. Great memories!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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