I just have to admit that one of my favorite dishes is Tamale Pie! It must be because I do love tamales and this has all the tamale stuff in it and it fills my plate and my tummy! In the mid-West, on the farms, Chicken Pot Pie and Chicken & Dumplings served this purpose and in Merrie Olde England, the same could be said of Shepherd’s Pie. All are casseroles filled with meat or chicken, vegetables and gravy and topped with something that was plentiful in the area. Traditional tamale pie has a cornmeal or cornbread topping. This one borrows prepared polenta from Italian cuisine and it works perfectly!
I’m not sure anyone knows the history of Tamale Pie; I suspect it’s a Tex-Mex creation but that’s only a guess on my part. Must do some more research on that. But it’s an easy meal to put together – the older kids can do it as long as they know safe stove practices. Add a good cold beer with a plateful of tamale pie, and settle in for the evening. Oh yes, if the kids cooked; parents clean the kitchen, right?
EZ Tamale Pie
- 1-1/2 lbs. extra lean ground beef (or ground turkey or ground chicken)
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely
- 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes with jalapenos
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 can (11 oz.) corn with peppers, drained well
- 1 can (2 oz.) sliced black olives, drained well
- 2 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 small can green chilies, optional
- Handful of chopped cilantro, optional
- 16 oz. tubular package prepared polenta
- 1 c shredded cheddar or mixed cheddar/jack cheese or pepper jack
Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a 13” x 9” or 2-1/2 qt. casserole with non-stick spray.
In a large non-stick or sprayed fry pan, brown the ground beef and onions together for about 5 minutes, or until there is no ‘pink” showing on the meat. Break the meat up with a spoon into small pieces as it cooks. Add tomatoes with its juice, tomato paste, corn, olives and chili powder. Stir well and bring to a boil. * If you chose to use either the chilies and/or the cilantro, add it here. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes to let flavors combine.
Pour meat mixture into the prepared casserole. Open the tube of polenta and cut in in half lengthwise, then lengthwise again so you have 4 curved triangles.. Cut each one into 1/4″ wedges and scatter the wedges on top to cover the top of the meat as completely as possible.
Sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until heated through and the top is a nice golden brown.
Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings.