Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mexican Tamale Pie by Tom

Mexican Tamale Pie by Tom

Barbara recently bought a magazine that featured recipes for two.  I paged through it and found this tamale pie recipe which sounded interesting.  Because David was going to come over for dinner, doubling the recipe was very easy. 

And unlike many recipes, I actually followed this one.  Well almost.  I did make three additions.  The recipe as written is meatless, but we decided that ground pork would add a nice touch and some protein.  I also added ground cumin and ancho chili powder as well.  All three additions added flavor to the dish.  Barbara added sour cream to her dish at the table, and David and I added a chunky salsa.  It all worked and we enjoyed this filling, rich in vegetables, dish.


Mexican Tamale Pie
(adapted from America's Test Kitchen Best Ever Cooking for Two, 2014)

Serves 4 - cut ingredients in half for 2

The Filling
1 pound ground pork
3 pablano chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, for browning and sautéing
1 can sweet corn kernels (or 2 ears of corn)
2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/2" pieces
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained and the juice reserved
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
4 ounces shredded jack cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

The Topping
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and make sure your rack is in the center of the oven.
In a 12" oven proof skillet, brown the ground pork over medium-high heat.
Once browned, add the peppers and the zucchini.  Cook these for about 5 minutes.
Next add the shallots, corn and tomatoes.  Cook these for another 6-8 minutes covered.  But do stir frequently to avoid sticking and to get the vegetables soft.
Now make the topping.  Whisk all of the dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
Add the buttermilk and eggs first, and stir that up.  Next add the cooled melted butter and incorporate it well into the cornbread mixture.
Once fully cooked, your filling should look like this.  Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin and ancho chili powder and cook for another minute or two stirring constantly to get the spices thoroughly mixed.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh cilantro, reserved tomato juice, and jack cheese.  The entire filling mixture will start to take on a creamy texture as the cheese melts.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Dollop the topping mixture on top of the filling and spread as evenly as possible over the top.  Pop the whole thing into the 450 degree oven and bake for 13-15 minutes.  With a toothpick, check to insure the cornbread topping is done.  The toothpick should come out clean. 
The cornbread should be a golden brown when you remove the skillet from the oven.  CAUTION: remember that the handle will be hot...and stay hot for a long time.  So use an oven mitt while removing from the oven and while serving.

Because the contents of the skillet had a fair amount of liquid in it when it went into the oven, I was not sure how much would remain after baking.  As a result I served the final product in a bowl.  I probably did not need to as most of the liquid was absorbed while baking.  Never the less. spooning into the bowl worked and kept everything together.

Serve with sour cream or chunky salsa, or neither.  This was a really tasty dish that is a keeper!


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