Some folks go camping to satiate a craving for peace and solitude, but my family and I have come to associate our annual camp outs  with twenty of our favorite friends, loads of laughter, and indulgent communal meals. Sure, we keep things fairly traditional by pitching tents, setting out coolers of cheap beer, and communing with nature on hikes, but our individual campsites tend to merge together at meal times. Relying on a wood burning fire and teeny-tiny grate to cook a enough food for a small army could seem daunting camping novices, but thankfully our savvy crew has transformed the forest into a merry mess hall multiple times.  We’ve been at this for more than ten years and have grown to become near experts when it comes to serving massive meals with limited resources.

Our breakfast burrito bar, featuring scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and every topping under the sun is an annual camp out highlight. We are also keen on baking potatoes in the fire embers and topping them off with a batch of my friend El’s famous BBQ cowboy beans, but our opening meal is always the same and a huge hit with everyone in our group!

Frito Pie, also known as walking tacos, are fun and festive addition to any group gathering.  To make Frito Pie, I  start by whipping up a batch of my healthy turkey chili. Its best to make the hearty chili a day in advance to allow the flavors to blend properly and freezing the whole batch in advance of our trip allows the chili to thaw gradually while helping to keep my cooler as cold as possible.

Once you’ve set up camp in the woods, simply heat the chili over the fire grate and serve in single-serve bag of Fritos garnished  with sour cream, cheddar cheese and snipped scallions. Of course walking tacos are equally delicious when served at picnic in the park or at a back yard party. No matter if you reheat your chili over a fire, on a grill or on the stove top, Frito Pie is really just a bag full of fun! Try serving it up to the happy campers in your life.

Camping Frito Pie (10 servings)

  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 red pepper, diced very small
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced very small
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, diced very small (optional)
  • 1 medium white onion, diced very small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (11 oz) can tomato puree
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 Cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 10 (1 oz) single serving bags of Fritos
  • Garnishes: Shredded Cheddar, Sour Cream, Snipped Scallions and Hot Sauce

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the turkey and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper before adding the peppers and onions.  Mix well and cook, stirring frequently until turkey is cooked through and vegetables are tender-about 10 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook just until garlic is fragrant-about 30 seconds.  Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano and cinnamon.  Mix well to incorporate the spices before adding the diced tomatoes, tomato puree, and chicken broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the beans, corn and additonal salt (if desired) to the pot.  Mix well and allow chili to return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.  Chili can be served at once or cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 4 months.  Reheat the chili before serving and add water to thin the chili as desired; it should be quite thick for use in Frito pie.T

o serve: Slit the Frito bags and ladle the hot chili over the chips directly into the bag.  Garnish each serving with shredded cheddar, sour cream, scallions and hot sauce as desired. 

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