Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie
from The Gourmet Slow Cooker by Lynn Alley

Ingredients:
Filling:
1 Tbs cumin seed
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs coarse-ground cornmeal (e.g. polenta)
1-14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 c fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 c canned pitted black olives, halved
1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt

Crust:
Dry:
1 c cornmeal (use up to half coarse-ground)
1 c all-purpose flour (or rice flour)
¼ c sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
Wet:
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 c buttermilk

Directions:
* To begin the filling, place the cumin in a mortar and grind to a coarse powder. (This brings out more intense flavor than using pre-ground cumin, but if that’s all you have available, feel free to substitute)
* Heat a large sauté pan (or dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the meat and onion and cook, stirring frequently to break up the meat, for 7 to 10 minutes, until browned. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, and cornmeal and cook until well mixed. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, and olives. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Add salt to taste and stir well.
* Pour the filling into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is cooked and heated through.
* If you do not have a slow-cooker, or want a faster result, pre-heat your oven to 400 F, then continue to simmer the meat mixture on low heat until flavors are well-melded, about 15-20 minutes, then pour into an oven-safe casserole at least 3″ deep or dutch oven, if you weren’t already using a dutch oven.
* To prepare the crust, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and stir to mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, eggs, and buttermilk. Whisk to blend. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
* Spread the batter on top of the filling in the slow cooker. Leaving the lid slightly ajar, cook on high for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out dry.
* If you are not using a slow cooker, spread the batter on top of the filling in your oven safe casserole or dutch oven, transfer to the middle rack or lower in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out dry.(If the crust ingredients are close to the rim of the casserole before baking begins, but might need a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drippings.)
* Spoon the pie onto dinner plates and serve immediately.

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