Tamale Pie

This recipe made its debut in The Baking Sheet, our subscription baking newsletter. Susan Reid, the editor, described it this way: "Greg, my other half, is always happy when the answer to 'what's for dinner?' is 'a casserole'. Being a true child of the Donna Reed era, the idea of a warm covered dish with meat and cheese and starch all together makes him feel right at home. The tamale topping for this dish is moist and tender, studded with flecks of corn. You can add herbs or cheese if you like. Partly because of my restaurant training, I tend to make the filling for this dish in double batches, one for now and one for the freezer. That way I'm halfway there later on when I come home late and want to get dinner on the table without starting from scratch. If you want to make the filling ahead, you can do so and tuck it in its casserole dish in the refrigerator. When you get home, turn the oven on, plunk the casserole in the microwave for 10 minutes to heat through while you put together the topping, scoop it out, put it in the oven. Your total time from start to dinner? 35 minutes."

Prep
35 mins
Bake
25 to 35 mins
Total
40 mins
Yield
8 servings, 12 ounces each
Tamale Pie

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the meat.

  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. Add the onions, garlic, and spices, and cook for 3 minutes more, until the onions soften.

  3. Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the kidney beans, stir to combine, and transfer the mixture to a covered 2 1/2 to 3-quart casserole dish.

  4. For the topping: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

  5. Work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.

  6. Beat together the egg, creamed corn, and buttermilk, and stir into the dry ingredients until evenly moistened.

  7. If you're adding cheese, stir it in now.

  8. Scoop the batter on top of the hot filling, leaving plenty of space around each one: the tamale dumplings will double in size as they cook. Cover the dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Tips from our Bakers

  • You can use pepperjack, Monterey jack, or cheddar cheese in this recipe, depending on your taste.
  • You can also spice up the recipe with a diced fresh jalapeno and a splash of tabasco sauce, if you like your food on the hotter end of the flavor spectrum.
  • Too hot to fire up the oven? If you have a deep 12-inch skillet with a lid, you can cook the tamale pie on the stove (or even outdoors, on your grill). After the batter is scooped on top, put on the lid and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • If you're looking for a timesaver, you could substitute a packet of taco seasoning for the spices in the filling; just be aware that prepackaged spice mixes often contain msg.
  • The amount of sodium in this recipe as given is equivalent to about 3/4 teaspoon of salt. If you'd like to lower this amount, switch from canned ingredients to fresh; cook the black beans from soaked, dried beans, or use low sodium canned corn and tomatoes.