Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tamale Pie

I have been playing around with recipes for enchilada casserole for the last couple of months, until I realized that I like tamales waaay more than I like enchiladas! Instead of having to fuss over wrapping individual tamales, why not just make one big casserole that tastes like tamales! So I decided to focus my fake-Mexican casserole skills on making a healthyish tamale pie. Tons of tamale pie recipes exist on the internet, but most replace the traditional masa dough with a cornbread topper. While I'm sure that's delicious, I wanted my casserole to actually taste like tamales: the soft, moist masa  dough is pure comfort food. So I decided to mix up some masa as if I were going to make tamales, and layer it in a pan with a delicious tex-mex filling. You can find masa in most supermarkets in the Latin section. It usually comes in a 2 kg bag, and is super cheap. Don't worry about having to buy a large bag, you will want to make this over and over again! It is so addictive and it freezes beautifully.

This is more of a technique than a recipe. You could do any filling/sauce combination you want. Next time I'm going to make green chile chicken tamales.

Masa Dough
3 cups instant masa
2 t baking powder
1 t adobo seasoning or Konriko Jalapeno Seasoning
3 cups water
1 T olive oil

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 can Rotel
1 can refried beans
1 cup pureed pumpkin (optional; I've written before about how I enjoy sneaking this in to add veggies and creaminess to a dish)
1 T chili powder
1 t smoked paprika
red pepper flakes to taste
salt or Adobo seasoning to taste
approximately 1 cup water, enough to loosen filling to a soft paste

8 oz grated low fat cheese
10 oz can red enchilada sauce (I like Las Palmas)

Mix dough ingredients together in a bowl, then cover and let stand while preparing filling.

Saute meat, onion, and pepper until meat is browned. Add remaining filling ingredients.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of a greased 10x13 baking pan. Spread filling on top. Top with cheese, then rest of the dough. You may need to put the dough on in blobs and smooth them down as best as you can. Pour enchiladas sauce on top. Bake at 350, tightly covered with foil, for 1 hour. It is ready when the masa dough is firm. Makes 10 servings

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