Out here in the Southwest, a good tamale pie is about as good a cozy winter dish you can find. Although delicious year-round, it always seems to hit the spot when it’s cold and rainy outside.
Served with a warm buttered tortilla, its flavorful filling and crunchy corn meal topping is hard to beat.
On Cooking Dude, you will also find a similar dish, Tamale Casserole. The casserole is simpler to fix, consisting of mainly opening cans, and is also very delicious. It’s great to take to a potluck or office party, and you don’t have any topping to bake. Check it out! But if you want the Real Thing, keep reading.
Ingredients for the filling:
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork (or sausage) (if the sausage comes as 12 or 14 ounces, use that)
1 large chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, either fresh or pickled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz), drained, preferably Ro-Tel
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 small can corn, drained
1 tablespoon ground oregano
10 green stuffed olives, coarsely chopped
10 black pitted olives, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese, preferably Mexican blend, or combination of Jack and Cheddar
Ingredients for the topping:
4 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat the oven to 375 degrees, and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Butter the inside of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. (It’s easiest if the butter is at room temperature. Then just finger paint the inside of the dish.)
Brown the meat in a big skillet and then add the chopped onion. After a few more minutes add the garlic, jalapeño, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, salt, and pepper. After a couple of minutes more, add the rest of the filling ingredients except for the cheese. Simmer for ten minutes or so to remove some of the liquid, and remove from the heat.
While the filling is simmering, get the water boiling for the topping. Add the butter, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the cornmeal while stirring constantly. After it’s all added, whisk it if necessary to dissolve lumps, if any. Don’t worry about some small lumps; this is a topping, not a hot breakfast cereal.
Spoon the filling in the baking dish, sprinkle the cheese over it, and spread the topping over that. Bake it in the oven for 30 minutes. If you would like the top to be a little browner, turn on the broiler for a few minutes.
Let the dish sit out of the oven for 10-15 minutes to cool off and firm up before serving. During this time, you can warm up some flour tortillas on the griddle, add a little butter and salt, fold them up, and have a great side for the dish, as shown in the top photo.