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Mar 12, 2010 11:57 AM

tamale pie-ish casserole, like cornbread or like polenta?

It's pouring rain, so I'm trying to make dinner from what i have at hand. I have some blue cornmeal, so I was thinking of a vegetarian tamale-pie type casserole. I've seen some recipes where the cornmeal is made into a cornbread batter with egg, and some where it's made into polenta.

I haven't actually made this before-- which way should I go?

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  1. The corn meal approach produces a bread textured layer while the Polenta approach is lighter and more tender. I suppose it depends on what you prefer. For my own palate, I'd go the Polenta route.

    1 Reply
    1. Don't forget that Mexican tamales, the kind steamed in a corn husk, use 'masa', a corn dough similar to that used for corn tortillas (it tends to be a bit coarser, and have added fat). So a 'pie' top/bottom that uses cornmeal or cornbread is a 'tamale' only in the sense that it uses corn.

      One of my mom's specialties was a 'wiener pie' - sliced hotdogs in a tomato sauce topped with cornbread. With the right proportion of saucy bottom and the topping it can be a good dish, but there isn't anything particularly Mexican about it.

      Have you found any recipes that call for masa harina - the 'instant' tamale/tortilla flour? I can imagine a true tamale dough, and then spreading it on the bottom of the pan, and then topping that with Mexican-ish items (meat, beans etc).

      4 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        PaulJ, I wasn't being very chowish that night, I was desperately scouring the cupboard and fridge so I wouldn't have to go out in the rain to buy something. I actually wound up finding an old box of yellow corn meal older than the blue, and I made cornbread with onions, chilis, cheese and beans baked in the middle. It was good for a rainy night.

        There's a good Mexican supermarket here, so I know I could get the right stuff and try for something authentic. But first I now still have the blue cornmeal and i have to find a recipe for that!

        1. re: wearybashful

          One of my Spanish cookbooks has a pork empanda using cornmeal. This is a Galician meat pie, something like a pizza with top and bottom. This particular recipe uses a yeast dough, but with half flour and half cornmeal. The filling is pork and sausages cooked with bell peppers and tomatoes, though a Mexican picadillo would also work nicely.

          Found recipe on the web:

          1. re: paulj

            What a great site. Thanks for the link!

            1. re: paulj

              that yeast/corn dough looks really interesting.

        2. this happy accident of mine using canned corn was really quite successful.

          3 Replies
          1. re: alkapal

            thanks-- actually I think I've never had or bought creamed corn. Am I weird? I think I forgot to say that I put frozen corn in my concoction. Trader Joes sells roasted kernels and I had that in the freezer.

              1. re: wearybashful

                i can't stand creamed corn, but i make a cornbread recipe that contains it and it is super moist and super good.

            1. I am so craving a veggie tamale pie casserole...
              Anybody have a good recipe for me and I'll use the 'crumbles' Morningstar product that is so fantastic to replace the ground beef..
              Whatcha got for me while I'm watching the debates..
              ; )

              2 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick

                I recently made this tamale pie
                With the following alterations:

                With onion, sautée 1 chopped red bell, 1 chopped poblano, 1 jaleno, 1 zucchini
                Use fire roasted tomatoes
                Reduce salt to 1/2 t
                Sub cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper for chili powder
                Sub 2 c corn kernels for cream corn
                Sub black beans for chicken
                Eliminate cheese
                Sub veggie stock for milk
                Sub kalamata for canned olives

                This is not the kind with the corn bread layer -- everything is incorporated together.

                Satisfying, but much lighter than original.

                1. re: maxie

                  That looks great maxie!

                  I made a tamale pie last night with Crumbles that are MorningStar veggie burger ground up like ground beef which I love...corn, olives, heirloom tomt's, chiles, can of el pato jalapeno enchi sauce, red onion sauteed and then top with Jiffy corn bread and bake for about 25 minutes...topped with extra sharp cheese, avocado slices and a dollop of daisy!
                  It was so so good!

              2. The original comment has been removed