Texas-Style Tamale Pie

This typically Texas-style casserole dish is a favorite for entertaining because it can be made well ahead of time—two to three days—and then baked just before serving time. It combines the spicy, savory flavors of Southwestern cooking and highlights three popular Tex-Mex ingredients: chili, corn and cheese. You can vary the ingredients to suit your taste and to use what you have on hand. The ingredients can be varied to suit your taste and what you have on hand. Add a green salad such as a Spinach Mango Salad with Lemony Mustard Dressing, recipe found on page 112 for those of you who have my Chili Madness cookbook, 2nd edition and perhaps the Garlic Sticks, recipe page 146 and you have a very tasty meal.

Yield: Serves 4

1 cup white, yellow, or blue corn meal

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon butter

2 cups chili, preferably beef

1/2 cup whole kernel corn

1 tomato, stemmed and diced

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup thinly sliced pimiento stuffed green olives

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese combination, or to taste

1. Place 3 cups of water and the salt in a large saucepan over high heat. In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups of water with the cornmeal. When the salted water boils, gradually pour in the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring often, until thick, about 30 minutes over low heat. Meanwhile, butter a 3-quart casserole.

2. While the cooked cornmeal is still warm, spread it over the bottom and sides of the casserole, smoothing it out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. If baking immediately, preheat the oven to 350 F or if delaying the baking, preheat before baking.

3. Spread the chili over the cornmeal on the bottom of the pan, then add the remaining ingredients in layers, ending with the cheese. Bake until the crust is crispy, and lightly browned, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Reprinted with permission from Chili Madness, 2nd edition.

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