Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tamale Pie

(The photo was taken right before I put it in the oven)
There are several variations of "hot tamale pie" to be found on the internet. Lots of them seem to have bell pepper and most don't use masa. Some criticize it for being "inauthentic."

It has a lot of similarities to a Cuban traditional dish, a pork and cornmeal stew.

In any case, here is mine:
I basically made a recipe of chili con carne, using 1¼ lbs. of hamburger and a little bit - 4 oz.? - of smoked salt pork I had.

No beans. Instead of beans, it uses whole corn. Read further.

I use dried Mexican savory peppers and add cumin, garlic, and oregano instead of buying commercial chili powder to season it. You can heat it up to your level of fire using different hot sauce or hot peppers in addition. I find this recipe benefits from a large dose of black pepper, also. To me it complements the corn flavor.

The recipe then departs further from traditional chili. In this 1½ gal. batch, I then added half a can of corn and 1½ cans of creamed corn and a cup of milk. I made the tomato-y part with tomato paste but I added a 16 oz. can of whole tomatoes. Then I added a whole cup of masa harina, which will thicken it up far more than a regular sort of chili. I prefer yellow masa, aka maize amarillo. It is not as common as white corn masa. (This bugs me. The white corn people are cramping my style. ¡Viva maíz amarillo!)

After it all comes to a boil and then simmers a while on a lower heat, and the masa is fully cooked (about 10 minutes), I cut up a pound of Monterey Jack cheese with peppers in it - "pepper jack." I stuck the slices down into the stew. Then I put that in the 265º F. oven until the top browned just slightly, about 25 minutes. Turned off the oven, cracked the door, let it rest for 15 minutes, and served.

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