I’ve been getting into Pinterest a little bit lately. I know- I’m about 6 months late. I started using it when there was all the excitement, but I just didn’t really get why everyone thought it was so cool. As of the last few weeks though, I’ve gotten on a few times, mainly to find some new recipe ideas. I’m still not obsessed with it like everyone else seems to be, but it wastes time pretty well.
I decided last week that I was going to make a bunch of Pinterest meals, but then it failed because we had a really busy week and I wasn’t home some nights and it just didn’t work. So we made this meal earlier this week instead. And it pretty much lasted us half the week because it made so much!
The funny part about finding this meal on Pinterest was that it’s originally from a food blog that I follow religiously (and they’re from Indy!). I’ve posted about them quite a few times before, A Couple Cooks, has a lot of great recipes that I like to try. Some are different, they are all pretty healthy and overall, we’ve had excellent luck with their recipes. So when I realized where this tamale pie recipe was from, I was pretty certain that it was going to be awesome.
This recipe calls for polenta, which I have never made before. About a year or so ago I found a recipe from a different blog for something that was very similar to this, only it used store bought polenta that comes in the tube and you slice. Uhhh yuck. I found out real quick that I was not a fan of store bought polenta. When I saw this recipe called for homemade polenta I was a little reluctant, but I figured it was time to give it a try again. I never knew homemade polenta was so simple to make and so good!! It’s water and cornmeal! That’s it! Just add some salt and butter for flavor and you in business. I was really surprised at how tasty it was straight out of the pan. And I am sure that if I added a little grated cheese, it’d be even tastier. It was so creamy and soft and just really good. Far better than our last experience. However, I made the polenta the day before because I messed up the order of our meals for that weekend so I had to throw it in the fridge overnight. The texture definitely changes, but if you cook it in the microwave for a bit, it softens a good amount. I’m sure I could have added milk to it, but I wasn’t too concerned with the texture since it was going on the bottom of this dish.
These tamale pies are super good. And really easy. The filling it really similar to the filling I made for the Mexican Lasagna. It has beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes and Mexican seasoning. You can make it as spicy as you want or as, well, not spicy as you want. And you could definitely add some more of your own ideas. Like more beans, or green peppers, or canned green chiles, or jalapenos, or enchilada sauce… I mean the options are endless. This is a great base recipe that you can always build on whenever you are in the mood for getting creative or just eat it the way it is whenever you don’t feel like getting creative!
Now, like I said, this creates a lot of food. It filled a whole 9 x 13 pan for me. The original recipe said I would need a 9 x 9 pan. The only way I think that would work is if you either didn’t use all of the polenta or all of the filling, or if you had a 9 x 9 pan that was 9 inches tall. Just keep that in mind. It also said to bake them in au gratin dishes, but I don’t have any. Wah! I only have teeny little ramekins that would really just not do the trick. I guess I should put that on my Christmas list! Anyway… like I said, this dish is really really great and it’s super simple and I think anyone would really enjoy eating it!
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups of water
Salt and Pepper
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About 2 cups of shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese
Ok- to make the polenta:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the cormeal, stirring constantly to help reduce clumps. Continue whisking for a couple minutes until the mixture starts to thicken. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat and allow the polenta to bubble a little. You’ll cook this for about 15 minutes, you basically want to get rid of the raw cornmeal flavor. Once it’s cooked, remove from heat and stir in the butter. Add more salt and pepper if desired. You can use this immediately or store overnight like I did. When it comes time to use it though, just reheat it in the microwave for a couple minutes to soften it again.
To make the pie:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the polenta on the bottom of the baking dish (or dishes).
In a large bowl, add the beans, corn, salsa, tomatoes, and seasonings. Mix together well. Pour over the polenta. Top with the shredded cheese.
Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through. Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes before eating. Top with fresh cilantro, sour cream or in our case, raw jalapenos from our garden!