Thursday, November 14, 2013

Experiment #7: Tamale Pie

Tamale pie isn't a new concept; there are recipes and variations all over the place. But any time I cook something without referring to a recipe, it's safer if I call it an experiment. The result of this week's experiment was fast and easy comfort food that doesn't leave you feeling weighed down.

My original plan was to make an actual pie, but I couldn't find my pie dish so I made a casserole instead and put a polenta crust on the top and bottom.

You can modify the filling to include whatever sounds good to you. Calabacitas, a mix of summer squashes, onion, and garlic, is a traditional New Mexican filling. B doesn't like zucchini, so I used beans, jalapenos, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. I used Texas-style chili seasonings, but red or green chile sauces would also be delicious (and authentic). Daiya cheddar shreds would also be good on top, but I didn't have any.

Speaking of green chile sauce, I decided at the last minute to spread a think layer of Sadie's Green Chile Sauce on top. I didn't salt the polenta enough, and it didn't have much flavor. The filling had plenty of spice on its own but not enough to stand up to the polenta. The sauce also gave the top of the casserole an attractive finish. Notice that I said a thin layer. Sadie's doesn't mess around--that sauce is HOT! Sadie's salsa, which is also delicious, comes in a "not as hot" variety. It's still crazy hot. Be warned.

Tamale Pie - Serves 4
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (with seeds)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can of pinto beans, drained (or substitute homemade beans)
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 cups water (I might use veggie stock next time!)
  • 1 cup uncooked polenta (corn grits)
  • 1/3 c Sadie's Green Chile Sauce
Preheat the oven to 

In a medium-sized skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Saute the onion and jalapeno for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add the pinto beans, tomato sauce, and spices to the skillet. Cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the filling mixture from heat and stir in the cilantro.

Spicy filling! 

In a medium-sized stock pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the polenta and reduce heat to low. Cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. In a small casserole dish (I think mine was a 7"x9") or pie dish, spread half of the polenta in an even layer along the bottom. Then spread the filling evenly over the polenta. Top the filling with another polenta layer. Spread the green chile sauce over the top of the casserole. 

Making the polenta crust

Bake the casserole at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

Easy New Mexican comfort food!

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