Try some tamale pie

Pittsburgh Post-GazetteMarch 26, 2014 

FOOD TAMALE-PIE PG

With seemingly nonstop cold weather, a hearty meal of tamale pie can help ward off the chill. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/MCT)

GRETCHEN MCKAY — MCT

With this nonstop cold weather, I'm hankering for food that sticks to the ribs. How better to sate those cravings than with the official casserole of Texas, tamale pie? Typically made with ground beef, this recipe cuts the fat and calories by substituting lean turkey. I didn't find the dish spicy enough, so next time I will probably increase the cumin and cayenne and also add a little chili powder.

5- 1/2 cups water

Salt and pepper

1-1/4 cups yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for dish

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 serrano chile, finely chopped

1- 1/2 pounds ground turkey

14-ounce can tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

8 pimento-stuffed green olives, rinsed and chopped

4 ounces Monterey jack, grated (1-1/4 cups)

Crisp lettuce leaves, for serving

Assorted toppings: chopped avocado, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro

Bring water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Whisking constantly, add cornmeal in slow, steady stream, switching to a wooden spoon when cornmeal becomes too thick to whisk. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Stir in butter, cover and keep warm over low heat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium dish and add vegetables and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is golden and veggies are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add turkey and cook, breaking up large pieces, until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and juices, stock and spices. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and mixture resembles chili, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives and season with salt and pepper.

With a wet spatula, spread 1- 1/2 cups cornmeal into bottom of prepared dish. Top with turkey mixture, then spread remaining cornmeal on top. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake until golden brown and cheese has melted, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving with lettuce and garnishes.

Serves 6 to 8.

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