Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tailgate Heroes: Petros Chili and Chips

This really isn't a recipe post, just an idea for a kick butt tailgating dish - Petro's.

What's a Petro, you ask?  

Photo Credit

A Petro is Knoxville's answer to the Frito Pie.  It quickly became my favorite fast food treat when we moved to Knoxville in 2000.  I always get a medium Petro with black olives. 

It got it's moniker because it originated at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville.    After a few name changes, they landed on "Petro" to tie in to the Energy them of the fair.

Joe and Carol Schoentrup got the idea from his sister who had seen a style of Frito pie at high school football games in Oregon.  Joe "gourmetized" the idea by adding tomatoes, chopped scallions, cheddar and monterey jack cheese, sour cream and hot sauce.  [Source:  Eugene Register-Guard]

Before the World's Fair started, Joe was selling his chilicious concoction to area construction workers so by the time the Fair began, there was already a demand for them.  In almost no time, they were selling 1,000 of the Petro's a day.  Now they are a small franchise operation in Tennessee and Georgia. 

I like the Petro for a tailgate item for several reasons.
  1. First you can make everything in advance and just assemble them onsite.  
  2. Second, they are portable.  Originally they were served straight out of a Frito's bag but now they serve them in a cup.  
  3. Third, they hold for a long time because the only thing you need to keep warm is the chili.   Keep it in a crock pot or other warmer and then just assemble the Petro's as demand ebbs and flows
  4. Fourth, the toppings are flexible and easy to make to order.
If you live near one of their stores, Petro's offers catering packages including their popular Orange flavored tea.  If you don't live in their area, it's easy enough to build your own version of this Tailgate Hero.
Homemade Petro's Petros, tailgate hero, tailgate appetizer, game day food

Just build it up in the following layers

Container - Petro's uses a waxed paper cup or bowl that is about 3" across by 2.5" deep.  At home I use a similar sized ramekin (like this: Norpro 6 Piece Porcelain Ramekin Set).   For onsite tailgates, paper food trays like the ones food trucks come in handy (like this:  2 lb paper food tray)
Corn chips - You want a layer about 1" thick.  I like to use Frito Chili Cheese flavor but you can use plain and/or any other brand.
Chili - Use your favorite chili with beans, whether canned or homemade.  I used a version of this NMT recipe for Chili Con Carne with Beans.
Cheese - They used cheddar and monterey jack.  I use whatever I have and/or whatever suits my mood.  Colby jack, mozzarella, cheddar, pepper jack, etc.
Green Onions - sliced on a bias
Diced tomatoes - seasoned with a bit of all purpose seasoning or salt
Other Toppings - This is up to you but popular choices include jalapenos, black olives, hot sauce, and my personal favorite - cilantro
Sour Cream - Petro's uses just sour cream but you can use Green Non-Fat yogurt to cut calories or you can do what I did and use my chipotle lime cream sauce.

Homemade Petro's Petros, tailgate hero, tailgate appetizer, game day food

Now just stir it all together and devour!

Homemade Petro's Petros, tailgate hero, tailgate appetizer, game day food

Petro's are a type of Frito pie, but not all Frito pies are Petro's.  These make the regular chili, cheese, and chips seem downright boring. 

Fastest Thermapen?
Thermoworks has a few limited edition Thermapens available right now.  An inside joke among BBQ nuts is which color Thermapen is the fastest.  Thermoworks may have settled the issue with this sexy cheetah version, since cheetahs are the fastest, right?

Available at Thermoworks.

[Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post from and have no affiliation with Petro's.  I received no compensation from Thermoworks for this post but they are a perferred partner of this blog.