Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tamal or Tamale Pie?

I was struggling with the proper way to name this dish since "tamale" isn't a word in Spanish. However, this dish is nothing like tamales, so I guess "tamale" is appropriate since both are are not authentically Mexican :). Anyway, when I told my Mexican girlfriend that I was making this dish, she went crazy because it is nothing like a tamal. I've made tamales, and I've helped my girlfriend's mother make tamales as well. So, I'm aware of how much work, time, and ingredients are involved in making the real thing.
LOOK! As a reward to myself for completing my paper, I bought my first Le Creuset item at an outlet mall! It is a 3 1/2 quart casserole pot. I love it!

Nevertheless, I was curious about the combination of cornbread, cheese, and seasoned meat all in one dish and wanted to try out this dish. No matter how this dish should be called, I must say it is beyond tasty. I loved it so much that I immediately spooned out seconds after eating the portion you see on the plate below.Look at that crust!

I compared a few recipes online, but I preferred the one I used because of the layer of corn and the mix-in of cheese in the cornbread batter. The "originator" of this recipe used Jiffy cornbread mix, but I used my favorite cornbread recipe instead. Even though I'm a southerner, I prefer a little sugar in my cornbread, but feel free to reduce or eliminate the sugar. It was easy to put together the cornbread batter, so I really don't think you need go out and buy a pre-made box of cornmeal, flour, and baking soda. That is really all it is, you know haha.I know I almost always tell you all to try out whatever meal or dish I post, but this is really good. You can make it with ground turkey or a load of beans if you don't eat beef. Make sure you season the meat/bean section well. I added the other filling options in the recipe below. Enjoy!
Tamal/Tamale Pie
greatly adapted from FoodWishes

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp veg oil
1/2 medium onion
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 lb ground beef, turkey, or canned beans (I actually used grass-fed beef for the first time)
1 cup diced peppers of your choice (optional; I didn't use)
1 16-oz jar salsa (I used Pomì chopped tomatoes)
1 tsp salt (I used Lawry's Seasoning Salt)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chipotle pepper (I used 3 Tbsp homemade adobe chile sauce; recipe here)
1-2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano (I used 1-2 tsp Mexican Oregano)
4 oz cheddar cheese, divided (I used sharp)
4 oz monterey jack cheese, divided
2 cups frozen or fresh corn

In a skillet, melt butter and oil. Add onions and garlic, and cook until translucent. Add the beef, turkey, or beans and green peppers, and cook until brown (for beans, just move on to the next step).

Add salsa or chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, chipotle pepper/adobe sauce, cumin, and oregano. Once the mixture is seasoned well, allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, p
reheat the oven to 375 degrees, and prepare the cornbread batter.

Buttermilk aka Dixie Cornbread
greatly adapted by Southern Plate

1 3/4 cups enriched white cornmeal (I used yellow)
3 Tbsp AP flour
1 tsp salt (I used kosher)
1 tsp baking soda
1-3 Tbsp sugar (depends on how sweet you like your cornbread)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (You could use milk + lemon juice, too)
1 egg
2-3 Tbsp melted butter
Stir together dry ingredients. Add buttermilk, egg, and add melted butter. Mix the ingredients until they are moistened; do not over-stir. Mix 3/4ths of the cheese to the cornbread batter.
Pour 1/4 of the mixture into the casserole pan.
Add 1/2-1 cup of the frozen or fresh corn on top of the batter.
Add all of the meat mixture. Then, add the rest of the corn (1/2-1 cup) (optional; I forgot to do this, so I had only one layer of corn, and it tasted more than fine.)
Add the rest of the cornbread batter.
Add additional cheese on top.
Bake uncovered in a preheated hot oven for 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.


  1. Hi, Memoria

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!! Let me be the first to write and say that I love your new Le Creuset cookware;it is very nice, very fine and all that! The tamal or tamale (I don't care what you call it, girl!)looks and smells :o) so tasty, rich and cheesy. Gosh, it is midnight and I want to have a midnight snack/feast right now. I just have to say it again, WOW!!!!!!!

  2. I LOVE YOUR CASSEROLE POT!! It is so cool!! I want it, I want it! Hahaha ... well, congrats on completing your paper. :) Well done! :) Whatever it is called, that dish is mouthwatering!! Love it!

  3. Just looking at the recipe, I can tell this one is a winner. You're right, this is nothing like a tamal, but every bit in the fabulous USA tradition of taking some other tradition's cusine and making it into a church supper casserole dish (and don't you have the perfect cookware for casseroles).

    Can't believe I've never thought to bake the cornbread on top of the homemade veggie chili before. I clearly lack your brilliance. So glad I know you. ;) I may have to wait to make this one until after the bambino arrives though, cuz beans aren't doin' this pregnant lady right at the moment.

    Please, do post that Adoboe sauce recipe. The canned stuff is not always easy to come by up here in NJ.


  4. Oh my gosh, this looks so good, I don't care what you call it!

  5. I can't wait to try this. A lot easier than making tamales!

  6. I LOVE tamale pie. This looks like a great recipe. Lovely le Creuset by the way! You totally deserve it. I bought my Kitchen Aid as my gift to myself for finishing my phD (clear it was an early gift, since I am still not done) :P

  7. It doesn't matter what you call is just GOOD. I love tamale pies! And tamales! What a great dish.

  8. Oh yum, I have had something like this before. It's a great way to satisfy the taste for tamale without going through all that work.

  9. Wait, hold on, where are you that you have an outlet mall that sells Le Creusets?? I am waiting for my Mom to become extremely generous, and then I am stealing hers so fast.

  10. Yum, looks good!! I made your cinnamon swirl bread last night and YUMMMM!! We've been eating it constantly - it's especially delicious in the morning with coffee! I didn't do the glaze (I actually forgot!), but it was still totally moist and delicious. Just thought you'd like to know! ;-)

  11. That must have been some paper!!! Your tamale pie is a great idea.

  12. This is a truly hearty and comforting one dish meal. love the generous amount of cheese!

  13. tsb - I posted the adobo sauce recipe for ya!! I love your comments haha.

    msmeanie - I love that you bought a KA mixer prematurely! I was looking for any excuse to get my Le Creuset haha.

    Wizzy - you're right. It does taste close to tamales without all the work.

    Katie - haha I live in Austin, and there is an outlet mall in Round Rock that has a Le Creuset store. I received a 25% off discount in the store. It was so fun!

    Amy - I'm so glad the cinnamon swirl bread came out so well!!! I agree that that is some good bread with or without the glaze!

    Laura/Cooking Photographer - It really was some paper. This paper determines if I will get to go on with my PhD studies or not. I can't sleep at night for thinking about if I passed or not.

    Noobcook - Gotta have the cheese!! haha I love cheese.

  14. No importa cómo se llama. ¡Quiero comer!

  15. How wonderful! I just want to come over and dive into this. Yum. And congrats on the new LC pot! :)

  16. I have to say- this looks so much better than the "originators" version. It's kind of like a mexicanized shepherd's pie. Yeah, I know that sounds crazy- ha!

  17. This was freekin' awesome! My wife and I ate on it for 3 days and we can't wait to make it again, maybe with some jalepenos in the cornbread..

  18. Looks excellent, Mem!
    I wanted to tell you that when I was little, every christmas all the women in the family would get together to make tamales. Some years, we would have extra filling and masa, but would run out of the husks. My abuelita would make something she called "torquitos", where she would just get a cupcake pan and lightly line the insides with masa, then fill the "cup" with the carne/chile and put a "tapa de masa" on top. She'd bake until golden. I used to love these even more than tamales, because I liked the chile more than the masa! =D
    Anyway, I've never seen then made outside of my family and abuela passed away years ago. Maybe I'll try it this month and report back to you. ;)
    Un fuerte abrazo aus München, Deutschland!

  19. Not alone, my mother and her sisters all made a tamal pies. A layer of prepared masa went into a pyrex, chile and carne next along with some black olives then topped with another layer of prepared masa and baked until golden brown...delish!
    Good Job Mangio =->

  20. Yummy... Thanks for the great post.
    non plagiarized


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