As a general rule, I’m not a fan of meat substitutes that try too hard to emulate the “real” thing. Vegetables are not meat and they never will be, and that’s OK.
With that said, I would like to immediately contradict myself by singing the praises of the ultimate in fake meat technology: soyrizo in a plastic tube. Other standouts in this category—smoked mock duck, tofu in all its many forms, and Morningstar veggie sausage patties—may be delicious on their own merits, but you’d never mistake them for animal products. Soyrizo, though, is in a league of its own. To the extent that you can ever pass off vegan meat as animal flesh, the intensely garlicky, neon orange soy paste totally nails it.
All of this makes soyrizo the perfect base for a party snack, regardless of who’s attending and what they like to eat. Vegans and vegetarians already know what’s up, but for once, it’s not a stretch to say that meat-eaters probably will have no idea they’re not eating pork. (People with soy allergies definitely want to avoid, though, so keep that in mind.) If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party this weekend and need to please guests with a variety of different dietary restrictions, I don’t think you can beat soyrizo Frito pie.
Somewhere between chili and a hot, cheesy dip—but far easier to serve than either of those—Frito pie is basically the ideal snack for a large, rowdy gathering. Making it mostly involves dumping assorted cans and bags into an Instant Pot or slow cooker and ignoring it for several hours. Plus, instead of individual bowls or a communal pot of dip, Frito pie is served straight out of a bag of Fritos—it’s entirely self-contained.
If the bag seems like a bit of an abomination to you, you’re not alone. Dearly departed legend and icon Anthony Bourdain, upon being served Frito pie in New Mexico, summarized the experience with upsetting accuracy: “It feels like you’re holding warm crap in a bag.”
I can’t argue with Tony’s assessment, but the bag’s pros far outweigh its cons. Serving what’s essentially a dip with its chip vehicle in individual, handheld parcels means nobody has to try and fail to scoop the perfect amount of dip onto a flimsy paper plate. This also discourages double dipping and dip hogging—every party has a dip hog; this is a fact—and eliminates the spills that inevitably happen somewhere on the route from chip to plate to mouth. Most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, Frito pie bangs. It’s not exactly groundbreaking to assert that cheesy, spicy glop poured over deboned corn nuts tastes good, but sometimes the whole exceeds the sum of its parts. Add pickled jalapeños, sour cream, and maybe a sprinkle of diced onion, and you have the ultimate party snack in the palm of your hand.
As written, this is obviously not vegan—but both soyrizo and original Fritos are. For a version completely free of animal products, you skip the dairy and double up on the Ro-Tel and beans. Serve sour cream and cheese, vegan or regular, on the side for those who want it.
To make a bubbling cauldron of this spicy, gloriously cheesy glop, you will need:
• 2 tablespoons neutral oil
• 1 12-ounce package soyrizo, removed from its plastic tube prison
• 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies, such as Ro-Tel, or more
• 1 15-ounce can beans, any variety, drained
• 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
• 4 ounces cream cheese
• 1 pound bagged shredded cheese, any kind
• Hot sauce of choice, to taste
• Salt and MSG, to taste
If using an Instant Pot, heat the oil on the “More” Sauté setting; if using a slow cooker, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the soyrizo and brown well, stirring to avoid scorching. Add the evaporated milk and cream cheese. When the cream cheese has fully melted, gradually stir in the bagged shredded cheese. Finally, dump in the Ro Tel and beans and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and/or MSG.
Adjust your Instant Pot to the “Less” Slow Cook setting, and set the cook time for however long you need to keep the dip warm. (For a regular slow cooker, transfer the contents of the pot to the slow cooker insert and set heat to low.) It’ll need a stir from time to time, but it should stay warm without separating for a good six to eight hours.
Before your guests arrive, arrange a lovely toppings buffet near the Instant Pot or slow cooker. Here’s what I used:
• Snack-sized bags of Fritos or other corn chips
• Sour cream
• More cheese
• Chopped red onion
• Pickled jalapeños
• Chopped cilantro
• Spoons, obviously
If all you could find was a multipack with, for example, Doritos, don’t worry—I investigated both Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese Doritos pie for you and found them both exceedingly pleasing. Shocking, I know.