Sunday, March 31, 2013

Recipe: Skillet Tamale Pie

Based on an October 2006 recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  Prepared for dinner on March 17, 2013. Serves 6.

Instead of using buttermilk for the cornbread topping you can use a powdered buttermilk substitute. Following the directions on the can, add the powder to the flour mixture and whisk the egg together with water.


Tamale filling 


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons chili powder
Table salt
2 cloves garlic
1 pound lean ground beef
1 15.5 ounce can black beans
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes 
3 ounces (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese 
Fresh cilantro leaves
Ground black pepper


Cornbread topping

3¾ ounces (¾ cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. With a rack in the middle position, heat an oven to 450°.
  2. For the tamale filling: Mince the onion.
  3. Mince the garlic with a garlic press.
  4. Drain and rinse the black beans.
  5. Drain the tomatoes.
  6. Prepare 2 tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro leaves.
  7. In a 12-inch oven-proof skillet, heat the oil over medium until shimmering.
  8. Add the onion, chili powder, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes
  9. Add the pressed garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  10. Add the beef, beans, and tomatoes and simmer until no pink remains in the meat, breaking up the beef with a spoon, about 5 minutes.
  11. Stir in the shredded cheese and cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. For the cornbread topping: Melt and cool the butter.
  13. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  14. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
  15. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until combined.
  16. Stir in the melted butter until combined.
  17. Spread the cornbread mixture evenly over the surface of the tamale filling.
  18. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean, 10-15 minutes.
  19. Serve.

Mince the onion, garlic, and cilantro.

Rinse and drain the beans, drain the tomatoes.
Cook the onion with salt and chili powder then add and cook the garlic.
Add beef, beans, and tomatoes and cook until the beef is no longer pink.
Stir in the grated cheese and chopped cilantro.
For the topping prepare the dry ingredients, melted butter, and egg/buttermilk mixture.
Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture.
Then stir in the melted butter.
Spread the cornbread batter evenly over the tamale mixture.
Bake at 450° until the cornbread is cooked, then serve.

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