I have a chalkboard hanging in my kitchen that says “Menu”. Most of the time it displays Suzie Q’s artistic expressions and maybe a quote or two. I hung it in the kitchen with the intention of posting our weekly menu, but most of the time I don’t have the heart to erase the creative artwork.
On the occasion my menu board is undecorated, I post my own artistry, what were having for dinner. And if I’m on task, I’ll post the dinner menu for the next two or three days. I always feel so efficient when I plan more than two days at a time.
Tonight it’s Skillet Tamale Pie. Tamale pie recipes have been around as long as I can remember. It’s delicious comfort food with beefy filling and cornbread topping, usually with lots of cheese. Mmmm.
I found this new recipe in Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters Cook Book. Ok, I don’t usually get too serious on this blog because frankly, life is serious enough. But… I strongly encourage watching these eye-opening food documentaries. Food Matters, Food Inc and Food Fight. Food does matter. It’s what either keeps us strong and healthy, or sick and obese.
Ok, so I could go on and on about buying local, buying organic and clearing all the pantry shelves of processed food, but I won’t. Today anyway. Today it’s all about Skillet Tamale Pie. And my two gals love this Tamale Pie. (me too!). Sometimes I just make the filling, let it cool and then serve it on top of a big bowl of crispy romaine with a little salsa and plain yogurt.
Although I changed a few things in this recipe, to suit the Bennett Crew’s taste buds, the original recipe is just as fabulous. The goal of this recipe is super tasty, simple, fresh and lots of smiles. I definitely saw lots of Bennett smiles.
Skillet Tamale Pie
Adapted from the Food Matters Cook Book by Mark Bittman
1 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind, I like Bob’s Red Mill brand and I mix 1/2 corn masa with 1/2 medium grind)
½ – 1 cup hot water, or more as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil or Grapeseed oil, or more as needed
1 lb ground beef or pork or chicken or a mixture
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
3 cups corn, fresh or frozen (I like Cascadian Organic)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ chopped fresh cilantro or green onions (or both) for garnish
Dollop of sour cream (optional)
Heat the oven to 400F.
Combine the cornmeal, hot water and a large pinch of salt; stir with a fork until smooth. Let it sit while you prepare the filling.
Put the oil in a deep oven proof skillet. If you are going to bake the tamale pie in a baking dish or individual single serving bowls, no need for the oven proof skillet, just use any large skillet.
Heat the oil over medium high heat and then add the meat. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.
Brown the meat for 5-10 minutes and then lower the heat and add the garlic and onion. Cook until the vegetables soften, adding more oil if needed.
Stir in the chili powder, tomatoes and corn and turn off the heat.
Stir the baking powder into the cornmeal mixture until it’s completely incorporated. The mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if not add a little more water.
If using the oven proof skillet, spoon the batter into the skillet on top of the filling and spread it around a bit. If using a small baking dish or individual bowls, pour the filling into the dish or dishes and then spoon the cornbread mixture over the top of the meat filling.
Bake until the cornbread has cracked and turned golden and is cooked all the way through, about 20 to 25 minutes for a large skillet or baking dish, a little less time for individual bowls.
Garnish with cilantro, green onion, pepper jack cheese and sour cream.