Well, my Moist ‘n’ Corny Cornbread recipe yields enough for leftovers, and what meatier way to use up a third of it than to make tamale pie. Any variety of locally raised ground meat will work in this skillet classic. This week I chose Thunder Heart Bison—very lean. Richardson Farms pastured pork or grassfed beef, Premium Lamb‘s goat, and Loncito’s Lamb will each give great results. You can find all of these producers at both the Sunset Valley Farmers Market and the Austin Farmers Market. Being a quick and easy dish, you may find you have time to relax (who gets to do that?) after dinner.
You can even make this meal using leftover chili, about a quart, in place of the ground meat mixture. Just heat the chili in the skillet, top it with the cornbread and cheese and bake it up.
TEXAS TAMALE SKILLET PIE serves 4 to 8
- 12 ounces (about 3 ½ cups) crumbled cornbread. About 1/3 of the pan of Moist ‘n’ Corny Cornbread.
- 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded cheese. I like about 5 ounces pepper jack and 3 ounces cheddar from Full Quiver Farm.
- 1 pound ground meat—see above.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Texas Olive Ranch‘s arbequina varietal is smooth and buttery.
- about 1 cup coarsely shredded butternut squash. I like Flintrock Hill’s selection.
- about 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
- about 1 cup medium-fine chopped sweet peppers. If all your diners are of age, you may include a hot pepper or two.
- a couple of medium-sized tomatoes, chopped. If your local sources have dried up, use 1 cup canned diced organic tomatoes. I use Muir Glen or Central Market or Whole Foods brand. Whichever is on sale.
- a couple or so cloves of garlic, minced. Local, if you or Morning Glory Farm have any left. Domestic organic otherwise.
- 2 Tablespoons best quality chili powder. I make my own.
- 2 or more teaspoons salt, to taste
- 1 25-ounce can organic pinto beans, drained. Don’t bother to rinse. Canned beans have been on special lately at our area stores. You can use 2 15-ounce cans. This recipe obviously leaves room for flexibility and creativity. So an extra 5 ounces of beans won’t do any harm. Just be sure to taste for adequate seasoning and correct if necessary.
Toss cornbread and cheese together in a bowl. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 450º.
Heat up the olive oil in a large (11″ or 12″) ovenproof skillet. Add the onion, cook for a minute, then add the squash. Stir everything around for a bit and add the peppers. After a couple minutes of occasional stirring, add the tomatoes. When your veggies have softened, mix in the chili powder and garlic. Add the ground meat. Cook, breaking up the clumps. When the meat is cooked through, add your beans and salt. Cook and stir until hot. Adjust seasoning.
Top the whole mess with the cornbread mixture. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Serve hot with salsa on the side, if desired.
CHILI POWDER makes a scant 3/4 cup
- 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder—natural, not Dutch-processed. I use Dagoba organic.
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ Tablespoon dried thyme
- 6 Tablespoons various ground chile powders. I like a blend of smoked paprika, ancho and New Mexico. Central Market’s bulk department carries many types. You can smell, ponder and choose to your taste. I store my chile powders in the freezer.
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper.
Mix everything together and transfer to an airtight container—I use a glass jar. Depending on how frequently you use this blend, you may want to store it in the freezer.