Tamale Pie


Here we are, nearing the end of July, and this is only my 6th blog entry for the month. Hopefully I can squeeze one more in there before we go to Seattle next week for a whopping 7 total entries!

Tonight, I made a tamale pie. Apparently tamale pie was somewhat of a staple dish in the 1940s-50s but I have never had it. In fact, I’d never even heard of it until recently. I really love tamales–and I really wanted to find some more uses for my masa harina–but tamales are quite labor intensive and basically every recipe calls for lard, which I am not willing to use. So, I searched for an alternative and came across something called a tamale pie. It seems like most of them, however, are made with cornmeal or cornbread mix so I went with the basic idea of the recipes I found online and used a masa crust (and of course I made up my own filling).

Now, I have no idea what a tamale pie is supposed to taste like or how authentic my filling was. Of course, I’m pretty sure tamale pie isn’t exactly “authentic” to begin with. But, this turned out pretty well if I do say so myself 🙂 I actually think I might prefer this with some chicken so I will try that next time around. (EDIT: I make this with chicken all the time now and it’s great! Just saute cooked, shredded chicken with your onions, peppers, etc. and you may need to use a little more salsa. I’m going to go ahead and tag this chicken, too, for this reason).

We had this with some southwestern roasted green beans. All I did here was toss some fresh green beans in a little oil and southwestern seasoning. I then roasted them for the last 15 minutes along with the pie (perfect timing–you can cut/prep your beans after you put the pie in the oven instead of trying to do everything at the same time). I’m not usually one for pre-mixed spice combos since I tend to have all the ingredients on hand to make my own mix, but southwest seasoning and Italian seasoning always seem to find their way into my cabinet, and they get a fair amount of use.


Tamale Pie
Serves 6

Masa crust
1.25 cups masa harina (corn flour)
1.5 Tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup corn
3 Tbsp milk
ground pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup chicken stock (you probably won’t use all of it but it’s good to have in case)

In a food processor, process corn, masa, butter, baking powder and pepper until butter is incorporated. Add milk and pulse process to just combine.

Mix chicken stock with masa mixture until a smooth, spreadable–not pourable–dough forms. I think I ended up using about 3/4 cup stock tonight. Add more stock as you feel necessary.

Tamale Pie Filling
1 pound ground beef
1 small to medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1  jalapeno, diced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup salsa
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar, jack, colby, etc. (whatever kind of cheese you want)
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.

Brown ground beef together with onion. Drain excess fat. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add remaining ingredients, except cheese. Simmer for a few minutes to combine flavors.

Pour filling into large pie pan or 8×8 baking dish.

Sprinkle with cheese, and then spread the masa crust over the top. Spray with cooking oil.

Bake about 25-30 minutes or until crust has set and filling is bubbly.

Nutritional Information Per Serving. I used 93% lean ground beef, 2% cheddar and nonfat milk.
Calories: 404 / Fat: 13.5g /  Saturated fat: 6g / Carbs: 40.2g / Dietary Fiber: 7.3g / Protein: 29g

This doesn’t photograph all that well since it has no bottom crust and doesn’t really hold together well. But I’m sure you could make this with a bottom crust, if you wanted to. I would just increase the masa mixture, place half of it in the pie pan and pre-bake it for 10 or so minutes before adding the filling and top crust.

Tamale Pie

3 thoughts on “Tamale Pie

  1. This is exactly the recipe I was looking for. I googled and your site came up! How cool! Will make this tonight. Thanks Elly!

  2. This is just the recipe II was looking for. LIke the basics; masa instead of corn meal, etc. Will bookmark. First visit. mbates

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