Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tamale Pie:Video and Recipe

After watching this video several times I wasn't sure I wanted to post it, let's just say the camera adds 15 pounds and leave it at that, OK?

Tamale Pie Recipe

I thought this turned out great, although there is some tinkering I'd like to do so check back here in the coming weeks and months to see if I have added or changed anything. This is just like lasagna or stews it really needs to be made the day before, and then reheated. Take the pie out of the fridge and let it come to room temp before you reheat it in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes, if it starts to get too brown around the edges you can always cover it with tin foil. Also don't brown the cheese under the broiler first time around like I did in this video, it's better to do that just before serving.

Char under the broiler 4 good size Poblano peppers, when they are blistered on all sides place them in a paper bag, fold over the top and let them cool for about 15 minutes. Remove from bag and peel, de-stem and seed the Poblano then roughly chop, place in a small bowl to be added later to the corn mixture. Yes this is a pain in the neck, but they give the dish a wonderful flavor.

Squash Puree:

Turn the oven to 450F and roast a large butternut squash 2-3 pounds (really any squash or even sweet potatoes would work). You can start this once the Poblano are out from under the broiler.

To roast the squash slice it in half horizontally, remove the seeds, and place flesh side down on a cookie sheet filed with an inch of water, cover loosely with tin foil (always see if you can find recycled tin foil) and cook until soft - about 45 minutes. When a fork easily pierces the squash take it out of the oven remove the foil and remove the squash from the pan to cool on a plate.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375F.

When the squash is cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh into the bowl of a food processor.

Add 2 T melted butter and puree, add salt and pepper to taste. You should have about 4 cups of silky puree.

Corn and Black Beans:

In a large skillet pour 3 T olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking over a medium high heat then add 3 cups sweet white organic corn, stirring often for about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 1/2 cups black beans (soaked and cooked until soft if starting with dry or a 15 ounce can drained and rinsed), 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, well drained, reserve the juice from the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons cumin powder, 2 teaspoons dried oregano cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add:

1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped, 4 scallions roughly chopped, prepared chopped Poblanos, salt and black pepper to taste.

Corn Tamale/Polenta:

In a large pot boil 5 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of salt.

In a bowl add 2 cups of organic corn meal and 2 cups of water and wish until well mixed and not lumpy, the add to the boiling water. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often until thick any where from 10-15 minutes. When nice and thick remove from heat and add 1 cup of sour cream, add salt and pepper to taste (I thought a few finely chopped Jalapeno pepper could be added to this mixture) keep covered.

OK almost time to assemble this mess of things, but lastly grate 1 1/2 cups of both sharp white cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese, mix the cheese together and have them ready in a big bowl.

The thing that I did that in my first attempt of this dish was puree an entire 200g tin of Chiles Chilpotles and spread it over the first layer of the polenta/corn meal mixture. This results in a deep, rich, spicy and fairly hot pie. I love it, but I think it would not be for everyone and that the way to proceed is to puree a tin (I use La Morena) of chipolte and 1 tablespoon at a time mix it into the squash puree, my thinking is 2 T would probably be about right, it would add a little heat and that lovely smoky flavor, but wouldn't send any of your guests to the fridge looking for ice water. Remember you can also serve Tabasco sauce and the pureed Chilpotles as condiment for those spice friends who like things hot!

Now you are ready to assemble it all.

Pour a little less then half of the tamale/polenta mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish you are going to use. I used my favorite big cazuela (approx 14" round and 6" deep) and it worked great - a large rectangular pyrex dish (10 x 13) would work fine. The worst thing that happens is you have to make a smaller left over version or make two in two smaller casseroles.

Let the polenta sit for minute to set, it should be firm enough to be able to easily spread the squash/chipotle mixture over, you might want to do this base polenta layer first before you grate the cheese.

Cover the squash layer with half the cheese then add the corn and black bean mixture.

Spoon the rest of the tamale/polenta mixture over the top and smooth with a spatula (when I made it it poured nicely and was easy to work with, if you feel it has gotten two thick or lumpy just whisk it up with a little more sour cream).

Sprinkle the top layer with about 1/3 cup of the reserved tomato juice enough to create a very thin layer of color on the polenta and finally cover it all with the remaining cheese.

back in the preheat 375 F oven for about 30 minutes the cheese should be melted and brown, if you are making this a day in advance by all means wait and brown the cheese at the last minute on the day you serve it.

This is a healthy, easy (if time consuming dish) gluten free dish. It's a great thing to make on Sunday to have all week long to nosh on - this amount could serve 10 people easily especially when you add a cabbage salad with lime cumin vinaigrette, and a simple dessert (coconut cookies or blood orange sherbet). Or it makes a very impressive one pot dish for a casual dinner party. My friend David brought over a fruity Riesling with a hint of sweet that went perfect with it, but Mexican beer and some sipping mescal would also be a festive option.

My notes:

After all the work you do to make all the layers when you actually get to serving and eating it everything with the exception of the top polenta/cheese layer mixes together. When I make this again, and I will make it again, I would think about trying different presentations.

Use the squash as the base and pour the entire polenta mixture on top, the top layer stayed firm and had an almost corn bread texture that was very nice, the bottom layer just was mush - very tasty mush, but mush none the less.

Pour all of the polenta into a casserole dish, cover it with the tomato juice all of the cheese and bake it for the same 30-40 minutes. Serve it as a baked tamale with cheese" in the dish at the table along with all the fillings in bowls so people can assemble it themselves, and this way all your hard work is on display: a beautiful bowl of chipotle squash puree, a colorful fricassee of corn, black beans and cilantro and a cheesy baked polenta. Add in a salad, condiments (chopped cilantro, chiplote puree, lime wedges, tobasco sauce, sour cream, chopped scallions) and you have one damn impressive spread, as I write this I think a more impressive spread then if you just serve it as a casserole. Let me know how you work it out and leave me a comment about your experience.

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