It is believed tamale pie dates back to the early 1900s, when women were encouraged to conserve meat. Nearly all tamale pies contain corn, cornmeal, tomatoes and beans. Some add beef, pork or chicken to the pie mixture, while others include cheese or olives.
The spiciness of tamale pies can be controlled through the use of peppers. The Jalapeno is relatively mild, whereas Habaneras boast the highest level of heat. The pepper rule of thumb is the smaller the pepper, the higher the heat.
When working with hot chili peppers, it's best to wear gloves. If this is not an option, be certain to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after removing seeds and chopping.
The following Vegetarian Tamale Pie recipe was developed by me when I worked at a health food store. This turned out to be one of the most requested dishes on the menu. I have since altered it with the addition of chile pepper and red pepper flakes. Feel free to adjust the heat by adding more or less of these ingredients.
VEGETARIAN TAMALE PIE
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 to 40 minutes
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 fresh Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed and minced
1 15-ounce can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can Refried Beans
1 15-ounce can Corn
1 15-ounce can diced Tomatoes, with juice
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper flakes (or Cayenne Pepper)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Sour Cream, optional
3 cups Cornmeal
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cups Water
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno pepper. Saute until crisp tender.
3) In medium mixing bowl, combine black beans, refried beans, corn, tomatoes, spices and sautéed vegetables. Mix well.
4) In separate medium mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, honey, salt, olive oil and water. Mix until smooth.
5) Pour bean mixture into lightly greased 8-inch glass baking dish.
6) Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of bean mixture.
7) Using a large spoon, place dollops of topping on bean mixture. Spread mixture across bean mixture as if icing a cake.
8) Place inside oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the cornmeal topping comes out clean.
9) Remove from oven and serve immediately.
10) Top with sour cream, if desired.