Baked Tamale Pie

 

Let me tell you a story.  So I love finding new things to cook that save me money, and I’m always willing to try something new.  Ethnic cooking of all kind intrigues me (as evidenced by my attempts at Ethiopian lentils, greens, and chicken). So when I find something that is steeply discounted, ethnic cooking, and I’ve never tried, it’s like a moth to a flame.

One day, I was at the grocery store, enjoying my trip through the discount sections. If you don’t know what that is, find out immediately! Most grocery stores have sections in the back where they deeply discount things that are out of season, almost ready to spoil, or dented or scratched. As long as you don’t care about aesthetics (you’re not gonna eat the can, you’re gonna eat the tomatoes inside) and are prepared to use it pretty soon, this is a gold mine of cheap groceries.

So I’m looking through the discounted canned goods, and a bag catches my eye. It’s green and yellow, and says “Maseca”. My small experience with Mexican cuisine tells me it has something to do with tamales, so since it was like a dollar, and the bag said it could make something like 150 corn tacos from one bag, I had to try it! Turns out, it is like a dried masa, which is corn flour used to make corn tortillas. I know homemade corn tortillas will happen someday soon now!

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To my delight, in the frozen section, chorizo was also on sale this week! I picked up a package, and knew I also had some black beans at home in my pantry. (Always buy canned goods on sale that you use often, and keep them on hand for when inspiration strikes!).

When I read up on how to make tamales, it sounded a bit too intimidating to buy corn husks and try this on my own. So instead I decided to make some kind of Mexican chili type thing. I didn’t want corn tortillas at the moment, so how to use the maseca?

Ah ha! As a crust and topping! Like a Mexican pie. Then I can have all the flavors of tamales, but without all the work. Brilliant.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 pound chorizo sausage
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 2 cups masa (1 cup maseca, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp crisco)
  • 1/2 cup diced veg: tomato, onion, bell peppers, hot peppers if that’s your thing
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

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Step 1: If you already have masa, you can skip this step.  But to make masa from maseca, just mix together 1 cup maseca, 1 cup water, and 1-2 tbsp Crisco or lard to make a thick batter. This is also the dough used to make corn tortillas if you want to do that.

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Step 2: In a large pan, fry your chorizo until browned. Drain if there is a lot of fat in yours. Add the beans and any veggies you’re using, and heat until the peppers are soft and tomatoes release their juices.

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Step 3: Line a 8×8 or 9×9 oven-safe pan with the maseca dough, pressing it into the sides and corners. Pour the cooked meat and beans into the lining and spread it evenly.  Heat your oven to 325.

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Step 4: If using, sprinkle on a layer of shredded cheddar.

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Step 5: Cover the pie with another layer of the dough.

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Take a little ball of dough, flatten it with your hands, and smush it together on top.  This is also the way you make the tortillas, by flattening it and moving the dough between your hands.

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Smush it all in there, pressing with your fingers to make sure the top layer of dough is smooth.

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Step 6: Bake in the oven at 325 for 45 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the dough is cooked throughout.

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Cut it into squares. Mmmm look at all that flavorful deliciousness!

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Top with whatever you like, I used sour cream, tomatillo salsa, and more bell peppers. You can also use hot sauce, more cheese, whatever makes your taste buds say “Ole!”. Enjoy!

 

 

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