Monday, January 7, 2008

Tamale Pie

I have been craving chicken tamales from the Olympia Farmer's Market since... the last time I ate one, in September 2005. There aren't any good Mexican restaurants that I know of out here, and it's not too easy to get supplies to make things at home either, such as the requisite dried corn husks. All of a sudden, I remembered hearing about something called Tamale Pie. I looked it up last night and found lots of completely different recipes for it. Today, I decided to make it from one of the recipes. To my dismay, we were almost completely out of corn meal and I don't have a car today so buying it is not an option. So I substituted some fine bulgur for some of the corn meal. I also didn't want to use ground beef, so I used some chicken. And I basically went on to almost completely change the recipe, minus a few of the ratios and the cooking temperature and time. I have already had a slice and it's delicious. I am excited about the possibilities for this one - the filling has so many options, so I'll be back with this one in the future.

Saskia's Almost Tamale Pie

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 banana pepper, chopped

  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 T olive or canola oil

  • 1 pound ground turkey or sliced chicken

  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped plus one tablespoon of tomato paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • cayenne powder, to taste

  • cumin, to taste

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon powdered paprika

  • 1/2 cup grated hard cheese, any type

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in the oil until just tender. Crumble the ground turkey into the skillet or add chicken pieces, stirring, and brown. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cayenne and cumin powders. Cook over low-to-medium heat for about 20 minutes.

While the filling mixture is simmering, bring 3 cups of the water to a boil. It is handy to do this in a nonstick pan or skillet. Slowly pour the corn meal and bulgur into the remaining 1 cup of cold water, stirring until smooth. Add the salt and paprika powder to the boiling water, and then, stirring constantly, add the cold corn meal mixture to the boiling water. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil a casserole or baking dish. Using half of the cornmeal-bulgur mixture, line the dish. Fill with the filling mixture and cover with the grated cheese. Using the remaining half of the cornmeal mixture, cover the top of the pie. Sprinkle with cilantro and press the cilantro into the cornmeal mixture.

Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Makes about 6 servings.

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