James Moore's Beef Tamale with Cornbread Topping

tamalepieThis is one of my favorite winter casseroles based on a recipe from The Best Make-Ahead Recipe Cookbook. You can make it in one large 9x13 pan or prepare two 8x8 square pans, and bake one and freeze one for another time. To freeze, wrap casserole in plastic wrap and then cover tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months.

To serve, unwrap casserole and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375F. Remove foil and continue to bake about 50-60 minutes longer, until cornbread is golden and filling is bubbly.
It helps to have everything prepped – onions chopped, beans drained, garlic minced, tomato cans opened. Once you begin, the recipe comes together quickly. Don’t start the cornbread until the filling is done and in the pan.

Tamale Filling:
1 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 ½ pounds 90% lean ground beef 
1 medium onion , minced
1 medium jalapeno chile , stemmed, seeded, and minced  (for more heat, include the seeds when mincing)
2 tablespoons chili powder (I like Spice Islands)
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
4 cloves garlic, minced  or pressed thru garlic press
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed  and drained
 1 can 28 oz can diced tomatoes   (I like Muir Glen)
1 ½ cups frozen corn   (do not thaw)
8 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
4 tsp. fresh lime juice (1-2 limes)
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop onion and jalapeno and set aside.  Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up large clumps, until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the onion, jalapeño, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, tomato paste, cocoa powder, cinnamon, oregano, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, scraping up any brown bits from pan. Off heat, stir in the black beans, corn, cheese, cilantro, and lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
Transfer the mixture to a 13x9 baking dish. (or two square pans)
Make the corn bread topping:
 1 ½ cups flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
6 Tablespoons sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk (or use Saco powdered buttermilk)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, butter, and eggs. Stir into the flour mixture and mix by hand until uniform. Spread the cornbread mixture evenly over the filling, pushing it to the edge of the baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes.

Do ahead alternative: After you spread the cornbread batter over filling - wrap dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bake for 50-60 minutes if refrigerated.


James Moore has been a cooking enthusiast since childhood and started blogging as a way to share favorite recipes with friends and family. His site, Cook Like James has grown to include restaurants, cookbooks, wines, and favorite places.