Culinary Q

Q as in "cue" as in "to prompt." A recipe is only the beginning…

Skillet Tamale Pie: Great as is, but with endless possibilities!

I was on the Cook’s Illustrated website looking for equipment reviews of skillets and this recipe for Skillet Tamale Pie came up in the process.  Since I am always looking for meals that are quick to prepare and hold well on warm in the oven, I made sure to put this on my “Try soon” list.  And try it soon I did.  🙂

tamale pie

Back for seconds already!

For a change, I followed the recipe exactly as written except for using whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose (refined/white) flour since, as happens most of the time, I had no white flour on hand.

To access the recipe on the America’s Test Kitchen Cook’s Illustrated site, you need to be a subscriber, but I’ll copy it here with the understanding that this is a sample to encourage you to become a subscriber yourself. 🙂 While I am copying things, (hopefully within fair-use limits!) I am going to be lazy also repeat the instructions verbatim.  The picture are really mine, though.  <grin>

Tamale Filling

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion , minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (lean)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans , drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
  • 3 ounces cheddar cheese , shredded (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • Ground black pepper

Cornbread Topping

  • 3/4cup unbleached all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal (3 3/4 ounces)
  •  3tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
For the tamale filling: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the ground sirloin, beans, and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Stir the cheddar and cilantro into the filling and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the cornbread topping: Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until uniform. Stir in the butter until just combined.
One more caveat from the original recipe – I used an instant buttermilk powered that you keep in the fridge, so I mixed the powder with the dry ingredients and mixed  just the water to reconstitute with the egg.

Close up to show texture and consistency

Dollop the cornbread batter evenly over the filling and spread into an even layer. Bake until the cornbread is cooked through in the center, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve.

Dolloped and ready for the oven


One more caveat from the original recipe – I used an instant buttermilk powered that you keep in the fridge, so I mixed the powder with the dry ingredients and mixed  just the water to reconstitute with the egg.

This dish is truly a winner! Not only was it really tasty, it was really easy to make. And, even better, it lends itself to all sorts of variations.  Instead of the ground beef, you can use any kind of ground meat or poultry, cube or shred pultry, beef, or pork, use up leftover cook meats, or go vegetarian with more beans, tofu, or lots of extra vegetables.  And, with meat or not, you can add  or substitute corn, green beens, bell pepper, or whatever other veggies strike your fancy.

And, I suppose, you could have a topping of tortillas or corn chips and cheese rather than the corn bread, but that would be vering off into a different, albeit also tasty recipe.

One last point in favor of this dish is that this holds well in the oven on warm, so if you are not sure of the dinner hour, you can make it early and it will be ready when you are. BUT, if you do that, beware of the hot handle on the fry pan and be sure to take precautions if your memory is anything like mine.

And leave that potholder on there!

Enjoy…safely.  <grin>


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on 05/12/2012 by in Casserole.
%d bloggers like this: