Tamale Pie

Kind of like the Lazy Cooks Tamale approach, Huntley Dent wrote in his book Feast of Santa Fe that the recipe smacks of a “home ec mentality,” where all the care and steps that impart character have been skipped. In many ways it is more like a Southwestern-style Shepherd’s Pie than bearing any resemblance to a steamed tamale.

It’s true, but somehow it deserves to be included in this book of traditional recipes.

This simple American-style layered casserole has everything a lunch meal needs. Add a salad and you’ve got a hearty supper that is bound to satisfy. One note is you might want to prepare a red or green sauce to be served over the top because it tends to be a little dry.

Cornmeal mixture:

1 ½ cup Masa Harina
6 Tablespoons butter
½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cream or milk
¾ cup hot chicken broth

Combine all ingredients. The dough should be soft enough to spread in the pan, about the consistency of cake frosting. If it’s too stiff, add a little broth.

Filling mixture:

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 can tomatoes, with liquid, or
4 fresh tomatoes, well chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup green chiles, chopped or
3 Tablespoons red chile powder
1 can pre-cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (if you have beans cooked from scratch, use them!)
1 can ripe olives, sliced and drained
½ pound grated Colby of Monterey Jack cheese

Sauté the meat, onion and garlic together in the olive oil, and when the meat is browned, drain off the excess grease. Add about 1 tsp. salt. Add the tomatoes and let simmer for one hour. Then add the beans and the chile.

Prepare the cornmeal mixture.

Layer a greased 9 x 13” casserole pan with half of the cornmeal mixture. Run it up along the sides. Pour the meat and tomato mixture over the cornmeal mixture and spread it evenly. Top with about half of the sliced olives and half of the grated cheese. Now spread the remaining cornmeal mixture evenly over the top, sprinkle the remaining sliced olives and grated cheese over the top and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Serves 8-10