Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tamale Pie in a Tablescape

My mother's mother (my dear grandmother!) made this Tamale Pie 
for her growing family and my mother made this Tamale Pie for me, my 
brother, and sister growing up.  In fact, as a working mother, it was a monthly staple 
served with only a green salad.  As a mother myself, cooking nightly, I made it for 
my children.  It didn't take long to understand why this recipe was such a 
staple because when having the ingredients on hand, it can be 
made using only one skillet, baked, and out of the oven in 30 minutes! 
 And - it's delicious!
 As the recipe reads below, this Tamale Pie is usually made in one cast iron 
skillet.  Baked, and plopped just out of the oven down onto a hot pad at the table.
This time, I decided to bake and serve them individually in 6-inch cast iron skillets.  
You can read about how I pre-seasoned and readied these small skillets for use HERE
With these small cast iron skillets in mind, I set a table imagining the small 
skillets as the top "plate" layer (with the help of a sweet pea!).   I love the
way the dark color of the skillets coordinated with the darkest color in the table runner.  
It made such a pretty picture, but I  had to gather them up to 
prepare them for baking the Tamale Pies.  
In their absence, I replaced them with small, black plastic mocajetes. 
($1 each at WalMart!) Often used for salsas and guacamole, 
I used them for serving our first-course salads while our Tamale Pies
were finishing baking.
Of course, you normally would make and bake this is one 10-12 inch cast iron skillet
but I will be making it and transferring it into the small cast iron skillets.
It begins by browning a pound of ground hamburger and 1 chopped onion together, draining any grease, then adding 3 small cans of tomato sauce,
1 can of cream corn, 1 small can of sliced olives, and 3 tablespoons chile powder.

This simmers on top of the stove while you combine the topping.  Here they are
divided between the four little skillets.  (Yes, I did have extra leftover
that I baked alongside in a smaller baking dish for lunch the next day!)
The cornbread batter topping is added and then they are put into
the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
I took them out and let them rest for a couple minutes while we finished our
salads, then I placed one skillet on each individual plates.
The best part is this Tamale Pie recipe truly is a 30-minute meal.  The recipe is
easy to remember and easy to throw together for a tasty homemade dinner!

Tamale Pie
Source:  My Grandmother

1 lb. ground hamburger
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
     In a large (10-12 inch) cast iron skillet, brown together.  Drain off any grease.  

Then add to the pan:
1 small can sliced olives
1 can cream corn
3 small cans tomato sauce
3 tablespoons chile powder
     Let simmer while you prepare the cornbread batter topping.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Pour topping batter evenly over top and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until cornbread is set.


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  1. I love the idea of using the individual cast iron skillets for each guest. That makes it so special! I'm your newest follower!

    1. Thanks Kitty - and thank you so much for being a follower! ~Karen

  2. These look so good, so ethnic. Your tablescape is so perfect for a Mexican dish....Christine

  3. This looks delicious! I love recipes like this that are handed down through the generations. You know it is a good one. I love the idea of individual cast iron skillets. It gives the table such a great look.

  4. I love those little fry pans! They could be used for so many presentations! Wonderfully festive table for Cinco!
    Thanks so much for linking to Let's Dish!
    Mother's Day Challenge this Wed at 7! :)

    1. I am your newest follower! :)

    2. Thanks Kathleen! I am really enjoying your Let's Dish! ~ Karen

  5. What a super cute idea to use the mini skillets!!! Really top notch thinking!!! I also like the way you used the molcajetes for serving salad. Really cute! I have a couple of the plastic ones, and I also have a stone molcajete that I picked up when we were in Tijuana a few years ago. The tamale pie sounds like a fun and easy dish!

    1. Thank you for the kind words and thanks for the correct molcajete spelling! Silly me! I used to have to have one of those HEAVY stone ones as well. Hmmm, I wonder where it is? I hope you will try the Tamale Pie recipe. ~Karen


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