Tamale Pie or 60s Mexican Food


 You are going to luv this one!
One of my favorite childhood dinners was Tamale Pie.  I still remember the smells when my mom made it and those smells have haunted me for years.  I know very strange why not just make some right?  You are totally right, I actually have her cookbook (BHG circa 1968) so I could have, but I knew my kids wouldn’t eat it and the ex showed no interest.  Don’t get me wrong I am not one of those moms that cater to their kids and makes 3 different meals, Heck NO! I am one of those moms that doesn’t believe in forcing my kids to eat things; I was forced as a child and still to this day have an aversion to certain foods, Thanks mom 😉
Actually my 2 oldest are good, adventurous eaters but ya know how little kids can be.  We kind of got stuck in a food rut for the last 25 years.  At least it was good, healthy food; balanced nutrition was always very important to me.  Funny though to look at a pic of my kids when they were very little, you would have thought I starved them… supper skinny, I’m talking like scary skinny.  I’ll have to see if I can find that pic and show y’all, it actually kind of freaked me out the last time I saw it again, lol.

So back to Tamale Pie, yesterday I read BF the recipe and he said “go for it love” (he’s a very good eater, even if I mess it up or its something he doesn’t like he’s generally eating it, he was raised that you eat everything on your plate and don’t complain, that’s rude).  I was super excited to cook dinner tonight.  Excited to cook… wait am I a clone and don’t know it?  No really, this is not where I expected to be in life at this point. I actually thought I would be eating out all the time and only cooking on special occasions, but then again life has a funny way of changing on us in unexpected ways.  One of the reasons I titled my blog, ‘Life in a Different Direction’. Again I digress…

If you have never had or heard of Tamale Pie, its a casserole type dish with a tomato base, hamburger and a cornmeal crust on top.  Obviously its the 60’s American housewives version of Mexican food which at the time was not a part of American culture as it is now.  You can bing or google the recipe but I wanted the classic that mom always made, from my favorite cookbook.  I swear I had dreamed of it, which strange as it may sound I actually do dream about her cooking, just one more thing I’ve missed since she died.
Tamale pie is basic, hardy comfort food, don’t think about calories or fat grams… just enjoy.
1 c chopped onion
1 c chopped green pepper
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 12 oz can whole kernel corn
1/2 cup pitted, olives, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2-3 tsp chili powder, depends on taste
dash pepper

This is the main part the topping comes next.
Cook meat, onion, and green pepper together in large skillet till meat is browned.  Stir in rest of ingredients and let simmer for 25 mins or until thick.  (I did not add my olives here I waited and only added to half during assembly, BF doesn’t like them).

While this is simmering prepare topping. Also preheat oven to 375.
3/4 c cornmeal, yellow
1/2 tsp salt
2 c cold water
1 tbs butter

In small saucepan add water, salt and cornmeal, cook on med high heat and stir constantly to avoid lumps or sticking.
Stir till thick. Next add butter, and stir into topping.

1 1/2 c shredded American cheese (I used taco blend, tasted the same so which ever you prefer. I use it for pretty much everything, its nice to just buy one huge bag and have it last all month vs. a bunch of little cheeses I have to grate and store).

Now when your tomato mix is finished, you are ready to assemble and bake.
In 9x9x2 (approx) baking dish (glass or metal no difference which ever you prefer, but I do suggesting lining with foil, I forgot had to soak my pan overnight).  Pour tomato mix into pan, cover with cheese, (this is where I added the olives to just half the pan, easy peasy and I have olives left to use for something else) then spread on cornmeal topper.

Bake in moderate oven (375) about 40 mins. Serves 4-6.
I was thrilled it tasted exactly like my moms and was still delicious like I dreamed about and bonus BF was thrilled, he actually said, ‘I loved it’.  So score!
Enjoy Y’all

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