Tamale Pie is one of those quintessential American pot-luck casserole dishes. It was probably invented by someone who had a taste of a real tamale and tried to recreate the flavor in a cornbread casserole.
I always loved tamale pie as a kid, fortunately it was often served in our school cafeteria. The tamale pie I remember was made with ground beef, with green chile, olives, whole corn, and topped with cornbread, though one could just as easily used pulled pork or a more traditional tamale stuffing for the casserole.
Tamale pie is not remotely Mexican and only somewhat resembles the flavor of real tamales. But it does taste great, is budget friendly, and easily feeds a lot of people.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chile powder (more or less to taste)
- 2 teaspoons cumin (more or less to taste)
- 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 (4-ounce) can green Anaheim chiles, drained, chopped
- 1 (16 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 (4 ounce) can sliced ripe olives
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1-pound of prepared cornbread mix (such as Jiffy or Bob's Red Mill).
- Whatever is needed according to cornbread mix instructions to make the cornbread batter (water, egg, oil, milk)
1 Preheat oven to 375°F.
2 Brown the beef, onions, bell pepper: Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper. Add salt, chile powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring infrequently, until the ground beef has browned on all sides.
Remove from heat. Drain excess fat if necessary (if you are using lean beef, there shouldn't be excess).
3 Stir in tomatoes, chiles, corn, olives, raisins, cheese, water: Mix in fire-roasted tomatoes, Anaheim chiles, corn, olives, raisins, cheese, and water. Adjust seasoning. Add more chile powder and cumin if desired.
4 Pour filling into casserole dish: Rub a little olive oil over the insides of a 9x12-inch casserole dish (or use a nonstick cooking spray). Spoon filling into the casserole dish.
5 Make cornbread batter, pour over filling: In a large bowl, prepare the cornbread batter according to the directions on the package. Pour the cornbread batter over the top of the filling in the casserole.
6 Bake: Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is browned.