Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tamale Pie

Here in Texas, we're enjoying our first wave of genuinely hot weather for the summer.  We've hit triple digits once already this year, but that was for a single day.  This whole week the mercury will top 100.

Contrary to popular belief, Texans don't love the heat.  We don't even handle it especially well.  Rather, when the temps get steamy, we do our best to stay indoors.  Even inside in the air conditioned cool, though, you don't exactly want to cook.

But you do want to EAT.

And therein lies the conundrum:  how to cook hearty, family-friendly meals without slaving over a hot stove.

This simple tamale pie relies primarily on canned goods (the only chopping is a single jalepeno, and you could really leave that out in favor of a dash of ground chipotle or ancho chili powder) and a packaged cornbread mix.  You have to have the stovetop on to simmer the chili and the oven on to bake the pie, but you don't have to hang out with those heat-makers.  Get it started, then retreat to cooler climes.

Best of all, the end result is positively delicious: spicy, sweet, chewy, crispy . . . it hits all the right notes.

I make this using a package of frozen ground burger substitute.  You could probably use a pound of ground beef instead, browning it and draining off the grease.  If you try it, let me know how it goes!


Tamale Pie
Chili Filling

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained OR 1 package faux burger crumbles
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes w/ juices
1 1/2 c. corn kernals (fresh or frozen)
1 jalepeno pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cumin
2-4 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)

1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (reduced fat fine)

1 package of cornbread mix for 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan, batter prepared according to package instructions

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine all of the chili materials in a large skillet. Heat to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking for about 30 minutes.  (Note:  I use a full 1/4 c. chili powder, which isn't particularly hot ... start with 2 Tbs. and see if you want more or not.)

Unbaked, with batter on top

Baked to a beautiful golden brown

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick spray.  Spread chili in pan.  Top with shredded cheese.  Pour cornbread batter on top.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cornbread is golden brown and a knife inserted in the topping comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before serving.


  1. My husband and I used to make a recipe something like this years ago, and somehow we lost sight of it entirely. We'll have to try this one. And our spices are so much better now!

  2. Wendy, looks delish! In the heat...well, you still need hot foods occasionally. LOL

    ~Avery aka Daryl

  3. Just for the record, this is actually better the second day, reheated in the oven or microwave. Thankfully, it makes a big ol' pan of food, so there's plenty for leftovers.

  4. This sounds great and it looks like it makes enough to last for a few meals. I always love that! Bet it's kid-friendly, too!

    ~ Krista

  5. My mother-in-law used to make something like this, and I've searched for the recipe for years! Thanks! Can't wait to try it!

  6. I make this using cooked, drained hamburger, chili beans, and tomatoes with green chilis. Sometimes we add poblano pepper also. There is never any leftovers, everyone loves it!