Even by my standards, this is a rather lame photo. Please remember, looks aren't everything. The infamous Marion Cunningham wrote she always wanted to open a tamale shop called Holey Moley Tamales and serve this as the house specialty, seeing it as a rare example of more being better in a dish. I made this last night, and for the life of me, try as I might, I can't remember the first time I ever made this. I remember making it early on when we were just a young couple, I remember making it when I had 9 tots around the table in my home day care, and I remember it being devoured my a trio of teens and their friends, but I can't remember where I got the recipe (The Oregonian's FoodDay?). Tamale Pie is just something I've always made, and I will say, it is universally well received by all. It can easily be made vegetarian, or bare essentials style, or holey moley style, with anything you might want to add. It is a fabulous week night supper recipe: the-little-pan-that-can, bake until bubbly, satisfaction at its best.
Using a 6-quart pressure cooker, cook 1 1/2 c. pinto beans in 1 1/2 qts. water at high pressure for 30 minutes. Shut off heat and let pressure drop naturally (Or use two cans of black beans).
Oil or spray a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish, or an 8 inch square and a second dish for freezing unbaked -two for one bonus cooking! Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix in a pot:
1 c. water
1 t. salt
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. boiling water
Cook, stirring until thickened. Spoon into baking dish(es) and spread (or pat out) evenly to form a bottom crust. I sometimes also bake it all in a smaller 7 x 11 inch dish and form a side crust.
In skillet, cook 1-2 lbs ground beef (or pork sausage, or a mix of the two. Omit for vegetarian, or substitute shredded chicken or turkey)
Season with: 1 t. each cumin, chili powder (optional), garlic and salt
1/2 - 1 chopped onion or 1 large leek
1 pint home canned tomatoes, 15 oz can tomato and/or 8 oz can tomato sauce, or 1 c. salsa
Optional additions I didn't use:
4 oz. mild green chili peppers (or minced fresh or frozen jalapeno)
1 bell pepper, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
Add to skillet, or layer separately:
Well drained beans
15 oz. can or 1 pint home canned (or 1 1/2 c. defrosted frozen) corn
Cover cornmeal crust with this filling or layer components. For this one, I cooked and seasoned the ground beef, then simply layered it with the beans, some sliced leeks and blopped on some salsa. I could only find a shy 1/2 c. in the fridge and no tomatoes in the cupboard and it was still great. This is an extremely flexible casserole that can't go wrong -my favorite kind!
1-2 c. grated cheddar cheese
15 oz. can sliced black olives
Bake until bubbly, 20 to 60 minutes. Serve with ketchup, sour cream -and pickled jalapenos!