Tamale Pie
December 21, 2010, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Poultry, Quick and Easy, Supper

once again, in spite of my best intentions, I forgot to take pictures. Woe! I’ll never be famous that way!

Tamale pie is warm and filling and delicious. It’s essentially a layer of cornmeal mush with chili on top and cheese on top of that- what’s not to love?
Typically I make a big ol’ vat of chili, feed my voracious family (for some reason the fledgelings return whenever chili is announced), and use the leftovers for tamale pie a couple of days later. however, last time I made chili (Saturday), I got all smart n stuff, and made half as much chili, thinking O, there’s just 3 of us now, and we all know the Scythian Horde will not descend upon us on a Saturday night, for they will be doing Horde-ish things at Don Corleone’s. So in my smug complacency I made a little pot of chili, just enough for 3 with leftovers enough for tamale pie. Alas, hubris happened, and The Horde descended like a flock of be-starved vultures,swooping in and eating all the chili and demanding to know why I didn’t make enough fo them to take some to their apartments for breakfast Sunday morning. I had no answer, just remorse.

Anyway, last night was chilly and damp, and even though there was no leftover chili, tamale pie was still definitely in order. There was, in the freezer, the remnants of a roasted chicken (for broth, I roasted the bird and picked off the meat for later, before using the bones and such to make the broth), and in the pantry were cans of tomatoes and navy beans, just what was needed for a white chicken chili…Joy! And thus chicken tamale pie for supper. Warm, filling, and delicious the next day in the form of leftovers. It is one of those meals that improves with a day or so of aging in the fridge.

White Chicken Chili Tamale Pie

For the chili:
About 1 pound of cooked chicken (let’s call it 2 big breasts if you want to…),shredded
2 cups chicken broth
1-14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1-14.5 oz can navy or great northern beans, undrained
1 tablespoon dried onion pieces
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground toasted coriander (optional, I know not everyone keeps this in their cabinet)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less or not at all, depending on how spicy you like it)
Mix it all together in a pot and simmer uncovered until it’s cooked down and is nice and thick. Stir it now and then to make sure it doesn’t stick. adjust the seasoning, adding salt if you need to, or more of this spice or that…

Now you’ve made the chili, it’s time to make the mush.

4 cups water in a pot
dash of salt
Bring the salted water to a rolling boil. With a whisk, stir in
1 cup ground cornmeal. yellow or white, it doesn’t matter. Don’t use cornbread mix. Use plain cornmeal.
turn the heat down to simmer
Stir constantly with a whisk until it’s thick like porridge. This is quick, maybe 5 minutes. Guess what! you’ve made POLENTA…only not this time. this time it’s just cornmeal mush.

To assemble the tamale pie, pour the mush into a greased casserole dish. Spread the chili on top (remember, if you’ve made chili and are using leftovers, this is COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE. If you deal regularly with The Scythian Horde or perhaps Philistines, bear this in mind and make plenty). Once the chili is spread, sprinkle some cheese on top. however much you like. ! prefer co-jack, but with chicken chili, pepperjack is quite good.
Bake this at 350F until the cheese starts to brown and the whole thing is kind of bubbly…maybe 30 minutes if the mush and chili are hot when youput them together, perhaps a little longer if you’re using leftovers from the fridge.

If you want to, you could add corn to either the chili or the mush…it would be tasty!

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