Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tamale Pie, that actually tastes like a tamale...

Its pretty easy to make if you ahve some experience in the kitchen, but helps allot if you have some prior practice with making shredded beef/pork/chicken , and remember, this isnt tamale pie as you normally see it in the southwest, its basically like a giant single tamale... got this recipe from an old mexican lady I worked with in Tennessee, she used it to make actual tamales, I use it to make the pie, cause its easier,lol... and tastes almost exactly the same.

Ok, first, you need the meat(haha!) I tend to do about 5 pounds at a time so theres extra, but you can scale down the recipe if youd like (or scale up!) whatever you do, dont use some expensive roast like tri tip, a good chuck roast or even round will work, and when london broil was on sale for $1.57 a pound, i tried that to and that worked out fine as well...and is a bit healthier for you as london broils are a rather lean cut.

You also need a large pan, big enough to go at least a good 4 inches above the top of whatever meat you are using, I prefer to use an even bigger pot though, bigger the pot, less chance you have of a boil over, cause this sauce we are gonna simmer in will stain just about ANYTHING...

Put pan on stove, put meat in pan, put 1 cup diced onions to taste(or dried diced onion!),5 sections finely diced garlic(or 5 tablespoons dried and diced garlic!), little bit of salt but not to much, you can add salt later if its not salty enough for you, and some diced chipotle peppers if you like your food really spicy, I normally dont use them though...I get bad heart burn and the enchilada sauce is spicy enough for me... Anyway, then you add 2 parts enchilada sauce, to 1 part water into the pan till youve covered the meat and hopefully have some room to spare over it as some of the water will evaporate even with the lid on unless you've got a pressure cooker! (I dont, but it would work awesome I bet.) (I usually end up using about a gallon of enchilada sauce, but I like having allot of leftover sauce...)

Now bring the water slowly to a boil, start it on medium/hi heat, and once it starts boiling, put the lid on and turn the heat down to medium low (on my range top, it numbers settings 1 through 9, medium hi would be 6-7, medium low would be 3-4) I start out at 7, turn it down to 6 when it starts to look like its almost boiling, then down to 4 once it starts and i get the lid on, and once its simmering well, i turn it down to 3... then you let it simmer for 2-4 hours depending on the size of the meat your cooking, with boneless chicken it could take as little as a half an hour to an hour, but basically as soon as you are able to easily "shred" the meat with two forks ( take the two forks, andhold it with one while sliding the other one down the side of the meat, if it comes off in "shreds" or chunks that can be easily shredded, then its ready.)

You could also use a slow cooker to do the same thing but it would take much much longer.

after youve taken the meat out , turn the heat to high and reduce the leftover sauce till it starts to become thick, like the consistency of a rich tomato soup, STIR OFTEN if your not careful, dont stir often enough, or let the sauce get TO thick you could burn it...depending on how much sauce your working with, it shouldnt take more than 5-10 minutes to reduce the sauce, reducing the sauce can be done on a lower heat such as medium/high if you want, but it will take MUCH longer, but is harder to screw up...

After the sauce is reduced, add just enough to the meat to make sure its well covered in sauce, but isnt like puddling all around it, it usually takes 1-2 cups sauce.

Now, get yourself a bag of Masa Harina, normal corn meal just does not taste the same, you will not get the traditional tamale taste without masa harina...I tend to use maseca brand, its cheap and easy to find. make tamale dough per the recipe on the bag, but make a double batch of dough if you want to make a top and bottom crust for the pie, if you just want to make a top which is the easiest and works well in my opinion, then you only need to make one batches worth of tamale dough... if you like an extra thick tamale dough crust on top though, you will once again need to make two batches,lol...

If making with two crusts, but your tamale dough on bottom of lightly greased baking pan and flatten it out over the whole bottom, if your just going to do a top crust like I do, then just plop your meat down into bottom of deep large baking/roasting pan, then flatten out the meat as best you can, then drop large dollops of the tamale dough at equal intervals over the meat mixture, then carefully smooth the dollops into each other to make a solid crust (oh, I add about a teaspoon of sugar to the tamale dough recipe...just my preference,I think it brings out the sweetness of the corn better, its good without it though.)

Place in middle rack of 400 degree oven with top on the roasting pan If you want a softer, more traditional style tamale dough crush, or keep the top off for a crisper crust, pie should finish in 30-45 minutes, or as soon as it starts to turn a nice light golden brown on top, you can finish it at 30 minutes to if you want it crispy by just turning your broiler on for a couple minutes and letting it brown the top a little more (this is with the OPEN pan crispy version, not the covered pan version...)

The meat used in this recipe could also be used to make AWESOME enchiladas! and for a good vegetarian version of this, try making it with red beans and rice! recipe for my tasty version of vegetarian red beans and rice soon to follow in the next post!

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