If you'd like to follow the farm via email, enter your address here:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tamale Pie

The first installment of cooking lessons begins with a old family favorite, Tamale Pie! This is a recipe from my grandmother who made it for years and years. Then my mom made it for years and years. And now I make it. And me, being me, I just can't leave a recipe well enough alone, I've doctored it up a bit which might make my female ancestors a bit nervous.

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with cornmeal and then wrapped in a corn husk and steamed (I think). Anyway, the absence of fresh corn husks out here on the prairie has relegated us to making this into a casserole (or if you are in the south, a covered dish). I will be providing you with two similar recipes. Why two? Well, there is the regular version and then there's the "I haven't been to a grocery store in two weeks so we're scanning the pantry shelves" version. Both are equally delicious!

Let's begin:

Ingredients: tomato sauce, salsa, vegetable oil, corn meal, ground meat, onion soup, beans, olive oil and corn

Use a good sturdy dutch oven because we are browning meat and also adding all the additional ingredients. A frying pan just doesn't hold it all! Add a pound of ground meat, whatever you have on hand is fine, hamburger usually, but in this case I had venison. The venison is extremely lean so I added a couple of swirls of olive oil to the pan.

When the meat is almost done, I add a package of onion soup mix. We eat a lot of venison and I find that the additional of the soup mix practically eliminates any gamey taste. NOTE: If I was using hamburger (or any other ground meat), I would have sauteed a chopped onion in the olive oil first.

I add a few good cranks of ground pepper. No salt in this case as the soup mix contains salt. But again, if using hamburger I would have added salt as well. By this time the meat should be fully cooked and browned. Remove the dutch oven from the heat (and remember to turn your burner off, sometimes I forget that part).

Add a half cup vegetable oil to the meat mixture.

Add two cups tomato sauce. I use homecanned sauce, nothing but the best for my pie! But, if you are short of homecanned sauce, a can will work. Sometimes I go crazy and used diced tomatoes!

Then I added a cup of home canned salsa. This is George's Salsa and the best I have ever had! Don't worry, I'll share the recipe this summer. I know I said a cup, but more happened to "glug" out and my motto is "If some is good, more is better!" My garlic, onions and green peppers were provided in the salsa. If using the traditional recipe, you would have added the ketchup and water here.

Check out those delicious chunks of farm raised goodness. Hey, I think I remember that onion!

Add one cup of cornmeal. Wait a minute, your cup isn't full! Nope, but that's all I had so in it went. When you live 30 miles from the grocery store, you're not making a trip just for cornmeal.

Then add two cups of corn. Again, I used home canned but when I've exhausted my canned corn supply, I go for frozen. No need to thaw the corn, just throw it in there. Add a can of beans. Usually I use black beans, but I only had great northern beans in the pantry so that's what went in. When you live 30 miles from the grocery store, you're not making a trip just for cornmeal and black beans. This is what it looks like prior to mixing. Stir it up. Grease a casserole pan, I used a 9x13 but any kind will work.

Here is my trusty enamel lasagna pan. She's not much to look at, but man does she make a great casserole!

Set your oven to 350 degrees. You can put the casserole in the oven and let them warm up together.

The tamale pie is going to bake for 45 minutes. Set your timer, burned t-pie is not as tasty.

45 minutes is just enough time to wash up your dishes. My husband jokes that he got a dishwasher when he got married, I never laugh.

I got my dishes done and I read a book!!!

OK, this was the book, but it's one of my daughter's and my favorites....a classic I highly recommend!

DING, DING, DING...the tamale pie is done!

Ahhhh, doesn't that look great! Check out the crispy sides. The hubby and I fight over those...

I serve it up with some shredded cheddar, a dollop of sour cream and a few green onions to make it pretty.

Tonight's supper: tamale pie, spinach salad and oranges. How did it go over with the fam?? The hubby had two helpings, the one year old cleaned her plate and I loved it! I hope you will, too.

Tamale Pie - Traditional Recipe
1 lb hamburger
1 med onion, chopped
1 med green pepper, chopped
salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Brown the above ingredients in a dutch oven.

Add to pan:
1/2 cup oil
1 can or 2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup + 1/2 cup water
1 tsp chili powder
1 can or 2 cups corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup yellow corn meal
Mix and pour into greased casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Tamale Pie - Today's Version
1 lb ground venison
olive oil to fry
Brown meat and then add:
1 pkt onion soup mix

Add to pan:
1/2 cup oil
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup salsa
2 cups corn
1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup yellow corn meal
2 cups tomato sauce


  1. Well done! I really like the picture of the end result! Great presentation :)

  2. I love the way you did this, Annie - the perfect lesson. And I LOVE the humor. You're my perfect teacher . . . if I can ever get myself to try something new . . . :-) Right now, trying to gear up to try something Ethiopian! :-)

  3. Okay, we are trying this tonight, with antelope! My request for a cooking lesson is flourless chocolate cake...please?

  4. Hmmmm, yes, flourless chocolate cake. Now I need a reason to make it, maybe I need a scraping day??


I read each and every comment, thank you for sharing in our farm!