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Tamale Pie

The comforting warmth of tamales from a cast iron skillet - no assembly line required.

Have you ever been to a Tamalada? A tamalada (tamal-making party) is a traditional Mexican party that brings family and friends together to assemble tamales. While making tamales can be labor intensive, it's not complicated and doesn't require tremendous focus. A tamalada makes the time-consuming aspect more enjoyable and rewarding by sitting around a table in an assembly line, doing the work together. In addition to the socializing, drinking and laughing that goes on you get to take home a variety of fresh tamales.

The host usually makes the masa (tamal dough), and they soak the corn husks. Guests typically bring the filling which varies from vegetarian bean options to spicy pork or beef. The possible fillings for tamales are endless.

After a demonstration by the host, guests roll up their sleeves and settle in a kitchen towel and a spoon, filling and wrapping.

After the tamales are fully cooked, it is time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Freshly steamed tamales aren't just delicious, they're fun to eat - unwrapping their husks is like opening a gift - which makes them the perfect party food.

A tamalada is as much about cooking together as it is about eating together. The point is to strengthen the ties between family and friends and create memories.

I am not saying my Tamale Pie can replace the real thing, but this quick recipe will definitely satisfy the craving when you are short on time. This dinner is fast enough to pull together on a weeknight, and assuming you buy mild enchilada sauce; the kids will like it too. Instead of ground beef, think about re-purposing leftover brisket or chicken tossed in a little enchilada sauce.


1 box JIFFY corn muffin mix

1 egg

1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. creamed corn (from a can)

1/3 c. red enchilada sauce (I like Frontera Red Chile Enchilada Sauce by Rick Bayless which is sold in a pouch)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder (Or substitute the cumin and chili powder for a packet of taco seasoning)

1 lb. ground beef

1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

1 c. Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

small handful cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)

kosher salt

ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare cornbread base.

In a medium bowl, combine corn muffin mix, sour cream, creamed corn, and egg. Stir until evenly combined but do not overbeat this. Pour into a large cast iron skillet and bake for 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. The oven time varies depending on how large the skillet is.

Prepare taco meat.

Sauté onions over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and break up the meat while it cooks through. Remove skillet from stovetop and drain excess fat. Season with salt, pepper, and spices (or substitute with a packet of taco seasoning). Pour in 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce and stir to mix everything.

Combine and Melt

Poke the entire surface of cornbread with a fork. Pour enchilada sauce over the cornbread. Add the meat mixture and top with shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake until the cheese is melted about 15 minutes. Remove foil and broil until cheese begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Top with cilantro, if desired. Serve alongside an icy margarita.

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