Crazy Casserole: Tamale Pie

Crazy Casserole: Tamale Pie

Happy Monday ya’ll!


How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was good, but busy. I took a note out of the book of weekends’ past and stayed disconnected much of the last three days and don’t you know that I sort of loved it? Not that I was a hermit at all, but I only booted up my computer once simply to look up discussion questions for book club. No mindless trolling, no obliviousness to life around me and it was nice to be in the present moment. That does mean that my Bloglovin’ feed is over 200, but that’s okay…

The busy life and times of me of the last two weeks and the two to come prompted a search for a southwestern dish that would be low muss, low fuss and freezer-friendly. And, what’s more freezer friendly than a casserole? Well, maybe a stew (which I made last week with the posole), but I think that casseroles come in a close second. Today we have a southwestern casserole, Tamale Pie. It’s actually the official state casserole of Texas (do states have those? I don’t know. Sounds suspect). Merging the authentic Mexican tamale with the American idea of a casserole, this Tamale Pie is essentially chili sandwiched between layers of cornmeal, topped with cheese and baked. Yes, please.

IMG_4750 IMG_4758

I’m not a huge casserole person since we didn’t really eat them growing up. No…as I page through my memory I can’t remember ever eating casserole. Ever. The closest thing to casserole we ate as kids was probably paella. Seriously.

Anyway, I’m glad I now have this in my life.   Try it and you’ll be thinking the same thing.

Tamale Pie
Serves 6
Southwestern style casserole
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Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
  1. 5 ½ cups water
  2. 2 ¼ cups cornmeal
  3. 1 TB unsalted butter
  4. 1 TB Cholula sauce
  5. 2 TB olive oil
  6. 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  7. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  8. 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed and coarsely chopped
  9. 1 serrano chili, finely chopped (seeds removed for less heat)
  10. 2 lbs ground turkey meat (beef or chicken would also work well)
  11. 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  12. ½ cup chicken stock
  13. 2 tsp cumin
  14. 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  15. 2 tsp chili powder
  16. 1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
  17. ½ cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 2 tsp each salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add cornmeal in a slow steady stream, switching to a wooden spoon when the cornmeal becomes too thick to whisk. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often until thick, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and Cholula sauce. Keep warm while you prep the rest.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, chile and salt. Cook until onion is golden and veggies are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the turkey and coo, breaking up into large pieces with a wooden spoon until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and juices, stock, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Reduce heat the medium and cooking, stirring often until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper
  5. With a wet spatula, spread 1 ½ cups cornmeal into the bottom of your prepared dish. Spread the turkey mixture on top and then top with remaining cornmeal. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until golden and the cheese is melted, about 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with avocado and extra onions and cilantro if desired.
  1. Another option to lesson the cooking time is to use leftover cooked rotisserie chicken or chicken breast.
Adapted from Martha's American Food
Adapted from Martha's American Food
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World


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