June 16, 2013

Tamale Pie Ring- A Father's Day #SundaySupper

Hi guys! I'm very excited to share this week's post with you, because I joined a thing called #SundaySupper.

I'm not usually a thing-joiner, because I tend to be that weird kid in the corner that never speaks up and nobody remembers is actually a part of the thing. But today I broke my routine to join #SundaySupper.
Sunday Supper Movement 
The #SundaySupper movement was started by Isabel of Family Foodie in order to bring Sunday Supper back around the family table. As someone who comes from a large Italian family, food and family have always gone hand-in-hand, so this particular thing-joining seemed a bit like a no-brainer.

So when I was lurking around the #SundaySupper group (weird kid that sits in the corner, remember that), and I saw that this week's theme was Father's Day, the first thing that came to mind was the most vivid memory I have of my father cooking: the time he made tamale pie and scarred my brother and I for life.

If you're not familiar with tamale pie, it's basically a chili and cornbread casserole. It has absolutely nothing to do with tamales. Or pie, for that matter. It's closer to a shepherd's pie or pot pie in terms of construction, with a chili-style filling and a crusty, cornbread-style crust. I read on the interwebz that tamale pie is supposed to be an American-ized version of the tamale, with the cornmeal to replace the mesa, but I'm not really seeing a whole lot of similarity beyond that.
The tamale pie incident happened when I was really young, but I remember my dad being really excited about it. He loves tamale pie and had decided to make it, and nothing was going to stop him. Now, my brother and I were young, and kids can be picky (although my mom said I was always willing to try something at least once). Tamale pie is not usually something you feed small children, especially since neither of us liked chili at the time. Or beans.

Suffice it to say, we both absolutely hated the tamale pie. So much that it became a joke in our house. We would get threatened with tamale pie. My dad would tease that he was making it for dinner, much to our shared horror. For years afterward, we wouldn't even have to think twice when someone asked what the worst thing we ever ate was; it was tamale pie.

So when I told my dad I was making tamale pie, the very first thing out of his mouth was, "But you don't like tamale pie!" Keep in mind, the tamale pie incident happened close to 20 years ago. It has not been forgotten. By anyone.
I had pinned a sloppy joe ring made in a bundt pan from Betty Crocker, in love with the idea of it, not as in love with the ingredients (chopped meat, Manwich sauce, and Bisquick). It seemed the perfect way to remake that traumatizing childhood meal in a way that wouldn't cause flashbacks.

I used a cornbread recipe from Old Reliable, but the filling I made myself, and let me tell you, this recipe won't traumatize you in the least. There was a wonderful smokiness from the chipotle, a hint of sweetness from the onions, the lovely buttery cornbread, just a touch of spice, and the veggies still managed to keep their crunch. The filling to cornbread ratio could have been a little bit better (I was being a little overly cautious), and I forgot to add the cheese to the cornbread, but other than that, this recipe is most definitely a keeper. Now, it makes way more filling than you actually need-- enough for about 2 rings, actually-- but you can always freeze the extra. Or, my dad suggests using it to make nachos.

Tamale Pie Ring
Yield: 6-8 servings

For the filling:
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup diced sweet onion (I used vidalia)
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and well drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with chipotle chilies*
6 oz. tomato paste
1 tbsp. Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime Seasoning Blend (or your favorite chili/taco seasoning blend)
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the cornbread:
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp. baking powder
2/3 cup shredded cheese (optional)
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Season the meat with salt and pepper, and then cook with onions and diced peppers in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until the meat is browned. Drain off the fat and mix with all remaining filling ingredients. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the cornbread ingredients, until a batter forms. Be careful not to over mix.

Generously grease and flour one regular bundt pan. Spoon in about 2/3 of the cornbread batter. Using the back of a spoon, smooth the batter a few inches up the sides and middle of the pan, creating a "moat" for the filling. (You only need a thin layer) Add about half of the filling, then top with the remaining batter, smoothing it out as much as possible. Bake 20 minutes, until the cornbread is browned and firmed. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before inverting it onto a serving dish.

Tip: This recipe works best with a relatively plain bundt pan. Keep the extra filling in the freezer, then whip up the cornbread for an easy week night meal.

*Or use regular diced tomatoes and add some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to taste.

Cornbread recipe adapted slightly from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. Filling recipe by Kim

Check out the rest of the #SundaySupper group celebrating the dads in their lives:
Dad’s Favorite Main Dishes:
Dad’s Favorite Appetizers and Sides:
Dad’s Favorite Desserts