Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tamale Pie

What to cook on a weekday night when you have some hamburger thawed and dinner needs to be made and eaten in 1 hour and you can't face spaghetti or tacos? Here's a recipe I first saw on America's Test Kitchen, but I modified it to suit my pantry staples. It's good to eat when you need to live out of your cupboard/freezer and not make a special trip to the store for something exotic.

Tamale Pie

Tamale Filling
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 pound ground beef
1 (15.5-ounce) can chili hot beans
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
3 ounces cheddar cheese , shredded (1 cup)
1 tablespoons dried cilantro leaves, or 2 T. fresh if you have some on hand
Ground black pepper

Cornbread Topping
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons 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. 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.

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