Remember when you were a kid and you went to the fair with your parents? After a day at the midway, the smell of fair food would become so irresistible it would finally overcome your desire to go on more rides.
All the food smelled so good, and the choices were overwhelming – corn dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, elephant ears, hot, fresh, french fries, onion rings, and chili cheese fries…and you would eat until your stomach felt like it might explode.
Then later you might have felt that unmistakable dirge of indigestion. That’s because the food was cooked with vegetable oil and included ingredients that were a mile long and indecipherable. Back then we didn’t care about all of that. Hopefully, now we know better.
Chili cheese fries, in my opinion, are the ultimate fast food. Even though I ate lots of fast food in my former SAD life, I never had chili cheese fries until we made them at home. For some reason, they never sounded appealing, but everyone else around me seemed to be crazy about them.
I heard people talk about these things as though they were the Holy Grail of greasy, fast food. Now I know why.
Last summer we went to the fair and we did have some fair food, but then of course afterward we were still hungry…and there my husband stood staring longingly at the chili cheese fries. Instead of spending more money on fair food, we decided to go home and make our own.
Ever since we made our first batch of chili cheese fries that night, this meal has been a big favorite in our household. Who could possibly resist hand-cut french fries with home-made chili beans and ground beef covered in melted cheese, sour cream, and salsa? The ground beef we used is from a local grass-fed, organic beef farm, and the french fries are cooked in lard, tallow, or coconut oil, which makes them unbelievably delicious and savory.
Here it is: the mother of all fast-food, except healthy. You finally have license to eat fast food and be healthy. “Sinful” food never tasted so good!
- cookie sheet
- parchment paper
- large pot or pan
- oven dish with low sides
- stainless steel measuring cup or small pan for heating oil
- 1 – 2 pounds of grass-fed ground beef (we have a family of three and normally use about 1.5 pounds and have some of the chili mixture including the meat left over)
- beans of your choice – we used black beans from Eden Organic – no BPA and cooked in kombu seaweed for better digestion, or you can get dried beans and soak them overnight in apple cider vinegar
- 5 large tomatoes or one 16 ounce can of tomatoes (if you like more tomatoes, add more) – we use Bionaturae – no BPA
- 1 cup of grated cheese of your choice (we used raw Monterey Jack cheese – you may want to use more)
- 1 to 2 large potatoes of your choice (we used Yukon Gold)
- chopped onions – we used half of a medium-sized onion, you may want more or less
- chopped green onions
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chili pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- real sour cream or home-made yogurt
- home-made salsa or organic store-bought (we use a local brand called Treasure Valley Salsa)
- lard, tallow, or coconut oil
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
Note that when we make this meal, we don’t adhere strictly to the amounts shown on the ingredient list. That’s why some ingredients don’t have an amount shown. I tend to add more chili pepper and cumin to my ground beef because we really like the strong taste of these spices. If you don’t like those to be as strong, add less.
Be certain to taste your chili mixture before you eat it, because flavors will vary depending on how much ground beef you use and how many people you are feeding. The above amounts are sufficient (with some leftover chili) for two adults and one child.
- Preheat oven to about 365 degrees.
- Cut the potato(es) up into even-size pieces, and they should be thin and long like french fries. Don’t allow any of your pieces to be too thick, or else they will take longer to cook. While you are cutting potatoes, melt about 1/8 cup of coconut oil on the stove. I have a set of stainless steel measuring cups, and I use one for the oil and place it on the stove on low heat.
- Place cut potatoes into a bowl large enough to hold them (depending on how many potatoes you use, you will need a small to medium mixing bowl) so you can mix with the coconut oil.
- Pour coconut oil on potatoes and mix well with your hands or a spoon. If you have more potatoes you will need just a bit more oil.
- Set potatoes aside and prepare a cookie sheet with enough parchment paper to cover the sheet. Place potatoes on the parchment paper and distribute evenly, making sure that all or most potatoes are singly-layered, with no potatoes laying on top of one another. Sprinkle sea salt and paprika over the potatoes. Place them in the oven and set your timer for about 25 minutes. When the buzzer goes off, you will turn your potatoes over onto the uncooked sides and re-set the timer to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, brown ground beef, garlic, and chopped onions in a large pan or pot. When the ground beef is 90 percent done, add beans and tomatoes, a little filtered water, and spices – oregano, cumin, paprika, chili powder, sea salt, and ground pepper. The seasoning amounts listed are only suggestions. You should taste your own chili mix to make sure it’s what you like. Turn up the heat to boil and then simmer while your potatoes are cooking.
- Cut up green onions and grate cheese.
- When potatoes are cooked (they might be on the soft side, if so, you can cook them a few minutes longer, but even when the potatoes are not terribly crisp, they still taste fabulous in this recipe), take them out of the oven.
- Place potatoes on an oven dish of some type with low sides – we have stone ware plates that are perfect for heating food in the oven. Spoon some of the chili bean-beef mixture on to the potatoes – as much or as little as you want. We heap our potatoes with the chili-beef.
- Pour the grated cheese evenly over the chili and potatoes.
- Place your plate in the oven until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
- Serve with sour cream, green onions, and salsa.
This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit her site and read the other great real food posts there.