Tuesday, January 26, 2021

FRITO SHEPHERD'S PIE from author Cleo Coyle for National #CornChipDay #glutenfree

With National Corn Chip Day coming up this Friday (we kid you not), Marc and I decided to re-share our own unique twist on the famous Frito Pie, which the late, great chef Tony Bordain once called "shockingly tasty." 

We agree! And our version takes it to the next level...

Our Frito Shepherd's Pie is a unique cross between
a tasty taco and pan of loaded potato skins.

And the best part? 
It’s full of good nutrition. 
Read on to learn more...

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

☕ A Recipe Note from Cleo 

Our readers may remember this amazing pie from our 13th culinary mystery, Billionaire Blend. In the book, Detective Mike Quinn tells the story of solving a homicide with members of the NYPD Bomb Squad (historically known as the Italian Squad). 

When the case is done, members of the squad take Quinn to an Irish pub for a night of "Frito Shepherd’s Pies" and some serious drinking. :)

While we're not advocating the drinking, this is the very pie that Detective Quinn enjoyed, and it's not only delicious, it's nutritious because we make it with lean ground meat, mix in black beans, and whip up our mashed potatoes with the skins on. The next day, a single leftover slice on a bowl of lettuce gives us an instant taco salad. 

Billionaire Blend:
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Click to learn more.

The recipe is deceptively simple. Yes, you start with a basic Frito Pie and top it with a Shepherd’s Pie crust of mashed potatoes. But there’s a trick to keeping the flavors balanced and avoiding a big mouth full of potatoes: We make our mashed potato crust very thin and mix it with a secret ingredient—sour cream.

Sour cream is a classic topping for Mexican dishes, but it’s also fantastic with potatoes, so it adds the perfect flavor note to the recipe, and (as mentioned above) turns our Frito Pie into a delicious cross between a tasty taco and a pan of loaded potato skins.

So if you’re tired of pizza (or looking for a gluten-free indulgence), consider this wonderful one-dish dinner. It’s incredibly satisfying, fun to eat, and easy to make.

~ Cleo


To download this recipe 
in a free PDF document you can
print, save, or share, click here.

Cleo Coyle's 
Frito's Shepherd's Pie


1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes (leftover or fresh, recipe provided at end*)

1/2 cup sour cream 

1-3/4 cups whole Fritos corn chips + 1/4 cup crushed Fritos for garnish

1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground meat made into chili or taco meat filling (we like to add black beans to our for additional nutrition and fiber)

8 ounces Monterey Jack, Cheddar, or taco cheese mix, shredded

1 jalapeno pepper, cut into rings (optional)


Prep Step—Make your mash: Re-warm your leftover mashed potatoes in a microwave or on your stovetop. Or create fresh mashed potatoes from scratch (recipe provided  at end of directions*). Whisk in sour cream. Set the finished mashed potato topping aside.

Build Pie with...

Layer 1—Fritos: Line the bottom of a 10-inch oven-proof skillet or cast iron pan (or casserole dish or deep dish pie pan) with a single layer of whole Fritos corn chips (about 1-3/4 cups).

Layer 2—Meat: Heat your chili or taco meat (and beans) until nice and hot, and then evenly spoon the mixture over the layer of corn chips in the pan, covering the chips completely. 

Layer 3—Cheese: Sprinkle a little over half of the shredded cheese on top of the meat. 

Layer 4—Taters: Now dollop the warm mashed potatoes and sour cream from Prep Step over the meat and cheese. Use the back of the spoon to carefully smooth it into a thin, even layer. This is a thin layer so take your time and do it gently.

Layer 5—Garnish: Sprinkle the top of the pie with 
the rest of the shredded cheese and the final 1/4 cup of crushed Fritos corn chips.

Broil: Finish the pie for a few minutes under a preheated broiler. Watch for the cheese to melt and the potatoes to become lightly browned on their edges. This will take anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes, depending on your broiler. (Check often because broilers can burn things very easily!) Cut into slices and serve immediately. You can further garnish with jalapeno rings, salsa, guacamole, hot sauce, olives, or other favorite toppings you might use for tacos or nachos. 


 Start with 3 large (or 6 small) white potatoes, about 1-½ pounds. Wash and cut into thick slices, leaving skins on for better nutrition, and boil for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft when fork tested. Drain well and mash with a potato masher or simply use a fork to smash the potatoes into small lumps and whisk vigorously until smooth. Follow recipe as directed, mixing potatoes first with sour cream, and then continuing with the recipe steps. 



This pie reheats like a dream. A slice of it also makes a great instant taco salad. Warm up a slice in the microwave and break it up over a fresh bowl of lettuce. Throw on some slices of avocado and olives or a fresh dollop of guacamole, and you’re set for a quick, healthy lunch.

Eat with cozy winter joy!

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries &
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

This is us -- Alice and Marc.
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

Visit our online coffeehouse here.
And follow us at these links...

Coming April 2021...

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"He is hardboiled in the tradition
of Philip Marlowe, and she is a genteel
Miss Marple; yet the two opposites
make an explosive combination..."

—Midwest Book Review

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Free Checklist of Books in Order

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
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  1. You had me at Fritos. And who knew a whole day was dedicated to my favorite snack food? Thank you for the marvelous recipe, Cleo.

    1. You're very welcome, Sandi. We hope you enjoy our twist on the classic Fritos recipe...as well as the upcoming corn chip day festivities. :) Have a lovely week. ~ Cleo

  2. I visited my husband when he was stationed in Okinawa. He and his buddies cooked shepards pie with local potatos and they were purple. Your fritos shepards pie looks way better.

    Don't stop writing, Cleo, I love your ghost detective. Jack can haunt me anytime.


    1. Hi, Lillian - First of all, thanks sincerely for the shout-out on our Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. We're excited about the new title coming this April, and our favorite PI ghost is absolutely ready to haunt you again. Our Jack will be back very soon indeed!

      On the purple potatoes, what a wonderful story! Yes, that would be one interesting shepherd's pie! I have never tasted the Okinawa purple sweet potato, though I know it's similar to the ube, and we're big fans of ube cake here in Queens (the Red Ribbon bakery makes an awesome version). Thank you so much for stopping by today. Have a "spirited" week! ~ Cleo