Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Sacred Tamale - Another Victim of the American Casserole

Ask someone from Mexico or Central America about homemade tamales, and you will see love in his or her eyes. Ask them about the all-American tamale pie, and you'll see contempt. Real tamales take hours of careful preparation, using secret formulas perfected over generations. They are more ritual than recipe.

This video recipe for hot tamale pie is further proof that we Americans can take any sacred ethnic recipe, and turn it into a quick and easy casserole. While this tamale pie has very little to do with its south-of-the-border namesake, it's a really delicious recipe all the same. So, with apologies to real tamale makers everywhere, I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!



Ingredients:
2 lbs ground beef
2 cups diced peppers of your choice
1 16-oz jar salsa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 oz cheddar cheese, divided
4 oz jack cheese, divided
2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin/bread mix
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
8 oz frozen corn, thawed

64 comments:

not a Jiffy fan said...

If anything can make Jiffy cornbread taste decent, it might be cooking it this way. I'll give it a try, and let you know.

Chef John said...

the cheese and meat does wonders

Anonymous said...

"I'm using a grass-fed, organic beef. That's why I have no savings..."

Hilarious as usual! But you'll probably live longer and healthier~

-D.W.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John, looks great, just one question. Can this be pulled off with a normal cornbread batter, or does Jiffy cornbread offer some kind of magical secret properties?

Anonymous said...

cabeza feliz? lol

you made my morning, made me laugh xD happy head

dan said...

This is one of those recipes that you need to stop everything and make immediately. I'm sitting here stuck at work salivating on my keyboard. This site is a treasure chest full of great stuff. When are those cd's coming out?

Chef John said...

jiffy is fairly moist and a bit sweet and not too crumbly, which works nicely here, but you could just any non-dry/crumbly recipe.

Chef John said...

gracias!

Wei Jun said...

Oooh. That looks good. Lol.
How about showing another pasta recipe? =D

JadedOne said...

Thanks for yet another easy recipe! Similar to the other question about the cornbread mix, do you think your jalapeno cornbread recipe would be a good substitute instead of the Jiffy mix?

Chef John said...

Yes, but one recipe may not be enough, so I would double, even if that may be a little too much.

USAOwnz said...

If you could make a "Bachelor Series" for us College students with a tight budget. That would be awesome.
This is cool recipe that doesn't take too long and relatively cheap.

Sharon said...

I love how you say salZa. LOL!
Awesome video!

Anonymous said...

Ooh what a delicious looking dish! I am committed to breaded pork chops tonite, but I will try this tomorrow nite and respond. Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Great tip about mixing the cheese with the top batter!
And about the tip using the fork to spread to the sides leaving rising steam space,
Thanks,
Luisa Vacaville

Scott - Boston said...

I totally agree with Sharon. Your Zs in salSa really bug me, Chef.

But this is coming from a person who hasn't phonetically pronounced an R in yeas and yeas.

Scott - Boston

Chef John said...

Two Words: Go Rays!

Anonymous said...

Ahh, well, since it's pick on Chef John day... I love the way you say "potatah". (Your CDN fans will understand).
Canada loves Chef John!

Chef John said...

Thanks, that my Rochester, NY accent... or as we say it Rah-chester

scallywag said...

Cool I live an hour, hour and a half away from rochester, im in syracuse... pretty gloomy place

Chef John said...

ive actually been in SF for 24 years but i haven't lost the Rah accent

Thoughts said...

I second the comment requesting awesome, simple, cheap, tasty, relatively quick meals (for college students here, but also great for busy families). This recipe is awesome.

Rusty said...

Sometimes a recipe will call for a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. Here's a Copy Cat recipe you can make at home if you are out of Jiffy.

This recipe is equal to one 8.5 ounce box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.

JIFFY CORN MUFFIN MIX COPY CAT

Makes 8.5 ounces (equal to 1-box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix)
Makes 1-1/2 cups of mix
Makes 6 corn muffins

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well with whisk. Whisk in vegetable oil and mix until dry mixture is smooth and lumps are gone.

Use the above mixed ingredients in recipes calling for a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.

To make corn muffins:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Combine above mixture with:

1 egg
1/3 cup milk

Fill muffin tins 1/2 full.
Bake 15-20 minutes
Makes 6 muffins.


-Rusty

Anonymous said...

Thanks chef, I will try this recipe for my husband today. He is originally from Texas, and has been begging for me to make him tamale pie for a year now. I'm from Norway, so I don't really know these foods very well, but thanks for making it all seem very simple!!

The Culinary Chase said...

Love it! Good ole fashioned home style cookin'!! My grandmother would say, "stick to your ribs!' meal. Cheers!

scallywag said...

I just made it... didn't turn out so well, it was burnt on the bottom... it was still good though :D

Chef John said...

did you use a glass baking dish like mine?

Rusty said...

Made it yesterday for dinner. I made a 1/2 recipe in an 8x8-inch pyrex square baking dish. I used the Jiffy copycat recipe above for the bottom and topping. Came out great. Very tasty recipe, I'll be making this again. Baking took 45 minutes. Thanks for the great idea!

scallywag said...

No, I used an old metal one...

Chef John said...

there's the problem.

Jeff said...

Oh man, I just got a little hungry.

scallywag said...

Yep, it was here in the house when i moved in haha, can you suggest any cheap bake ware that would be better

Chef John said...

Any heavy glass or ceramic casserole dish at Target or Bed Bath and Beyond will work. They are not that expensive and worth every penny.

shop a lot said...

You can even find baking glassware by Pyrex at many large grocery stores.

scallywag said...

Thank you! Happy Halloween!

Anonymous said...

....I just cooked this (used only 1/2 recipe) .... used 1 can of cheap corn....rinsed and drained and added 1/2 teaspoon of taco seasoning....baked 45 minutes....jiffy and the corn makes this dish....very tamale....thanks John!

maitino said...

Can you assemble in advance and freeze or refridgerate? How long if so? Do u need to defrost first or just pop in oven?

Chef John said...

sorry, not sure, never done.

Memória said...

I made this dish today and wrote a post about it. Thank you for a great recipe!

http://www.mangiodasola.com/2010/03/tamal-or-tamale-pie.html

Chef John said...

wow, looked great!! thanks!

Alina said...

Hi.
I love that you make it clear that your "Mexican" recipes are more like "Mexican inspired" and not that authentic. They're still great though.

Just one observation from a nauseating pedantic Mexican here: It's one tamal, many tamales. There's no such thing as a tamale.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef John,

I just wanted to say this dish came out wonderful. Its my first time using one of your recipe.I wish you the best of luck in everything that you do. I can't wait to get your book.

Take care Rachel

LADYBUGPLUS said...

Hi Chef John, I made this for dinner tonight and I am so luvin it! It is just perfectly crusty and seasoned. I remember when I was on a diet my Dr put me on a plan where my local hospital made meals for the week that I picked up in their cafeteria and this tasted very much like my favorite meal they made. It was called Taco Pie though but this is very much like it. I hearted that then and I heart this now. I also find I luv most all your recipes but this is so far my favorite. As the little fella said on your video "aye carumba"
Laura

Mexican Girl said...

I love many of Chef John's recipes but not this one :(
The Jiffy corn mix is too sweet for a tamale casserole!
I have never tried it before so I didn't rally know what it tasted like and I was quite disappointed with the result.
If you like the taste of real tamales this is not a good choice. Instead I would have used the Jiffy mix to prepare a sweet corn cake for dessert.

LaurieIsabel said...

I'm also wondering if this dish can be pre-made and refridgerated or frozen then baked - has anyone tried? Hope to hear from someone! Thanks -

And Chef John, just found your site, so glad I did, love your videos - they are so NOT annoying, and clever! Unlike many cooking videos out there!

Thanks,
Laurie in Canada

Chef John said...

I've never tried to freeze, but don't think it would be a great idea. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Excellent recipe! My family just loved it. Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

love your blog, recipes and videos. A bit disappointed with the Jiffy cornbread recommendation. Why bother with organic grass fed beef and then use partially hydrogenated fats in the topping? regular corn bread with the heart healthy oil of your choice works just fine in this recipe.

1Bigg_ER said...

was off work today, started browsing this blog, found this recipe, occupied the kitchen, got it done,ATE IT,ENJOYED IT, opened a beer!! I'd say this was a damn good day.

THIS SOME GREAT SHIT!! (EXCUSE MY FRENCH)

1Bigg_ER said...

BTW, whatever you do, do NOT skip the sweet corn.

Anonymous said...

Saw this on allrecipes.com. Can you tell me how many servings?

Chef John said...

Maybe 6 or 8?

Anonymous said...

Chef John, I was wondering if using a medium or even mild (heat-wise)chunky salsa might be acceptable instead of adding the peppers and other spices? I often add it to my chili, and it really kicks it up. Would just make it even quicker, besides the fact that I don't keep chipotle pepper on hand. Not sure I've ever seen it, actually.

jian said...

Love your foodwishes.com!

Q: We typically use ground turkey in everything that calls for ground beef. However, I'm hesitant to sub on this tamale recipe because ground turkey doesn't work so well for meatloaf when it's in a loaf pan. Would ground turkey spoil the recipe here, do you think?

Chef John said...

too subjective to answer, but i'd use beef.

Kelly Ann said...

I have made this before......delicious!!!! I went to look at the video again to refresh my memory, and I cannot find the video. Am I doing something wrong, or is it not available anymore?

Chef John said...

It looks fine, but here is the YT version. http://youtu.be/6pk1atQECIc

happyg said...

Saw this and wanted to try it, didn't have the Jiffy but used a recipe for cornbread that was a little too sweet otherwise great idea, I will make it again and just cut the sugar in half.

Jodie said...

Hi Chef,

I hope you enjoyed your [mandatory] vacation! For your returning amusement, may I present the following review:

I believe my cooking-prowess would best be described as: "semi-frequently manages to not burn water if she's focused on the task" - so I'm no stranger to recipes that appear to over commit and under deliver...

I was looking for a way to safely dispose of some Jiffy that was left behind from some mad science project or another, and stumbled upon your instructions here; decided this was as good as any.

I'm sure a classically trained chef such as yourself would regard this in utter disgust, but I'm also a vegetarian, so needed to make a "few" substitutions. For beef, I substituted a "replacement" from a company whose name sounds like they grow nina weapons, and are owned by a ginormous company that starts with a 'K' and ends up in a 'raft'.

I gutted a couple pablanos, tossed in some seasoning, the pablanos, a couple left-over cans of green chilis, some fresh Portabellas, a small onion, salt, pepper, and whatever that hairy stuff in the back of the fridge was from that Mexican restaurant the health department closed down into the food processor, and hit the "Pew! Pew! DIE FOOD!" button a few times. Into the big 18" stir fry pan went the fake meat and a little garlic with some grape seed oil, browned it all up, then dumped in the salsa, the chopped-up gunk, and the corn. Let that stew for a bit while I "prepared" the batter (without hurting myself!) and assembled as instructed.

It came out of the oven and... HOLY COW! That is the tastiest thing I've ever cooked! (which might not mean much considering my normal evening cooking ritual involves opening a package and pressing "3-Start" on the nuke-box-thing, or asking if the Chef can substitute a vegetarian menu option)

Seriously - that is downright tasty! And so easy, even *I* can manage to not screw it up!

It's like Chili and Cornbread with the Cornbread built right in. Self-contained Chili and Cornbread. The addition of the portabellas make it really quite savory and help to cut back the sweetness of the bread-corn-product.

This is something I'd feed to people I actually _like!_ (now I just need to meet some of those...)

Regardless, thank you for delivering such an easy to follow tasty treat and making me feel like I'm not beyond salvation in the kitchen. I'm anxious to have a look at some of your other yummy-looking instructions!

- Jodie

Melissa Poole said...

The jiffy cornbread mix is just a mix. Use any cornbread mix...I'll be using Martha Whites cornbread mix.

George Cottell said...

Made this yesterday, almost exactly as written. I just added a bit more spice and half a packet of Hot Taco seasoning. It was fantastic! I will be making this again.

Tina Jaynes said...

What tempature and how long to get, the video doesn't work.

Granny Kat said...

I was able to bring up the video...it says 350 degrees fro 50-60 miuntes

Angela Garza said...

Can you use chicken instead of hamburger meat?