tamale pie

poblano peppers as decoration

I took a taxi to work yesterday. I know, I know – decadent, extravagant and wholly unnecessary. But at 6:40am before the sun even gave me a hint of its arrival, Tribeca looked quiet and desolate and I got scared. Yes, side from being wasteful with my money, I am also a total sissy. Fifteen dollars and fifteen minutes later, climbing out of the taxi in midtown I looked up at the sky – it had barely changed its hue. Sigh. Seeing that I just splurged on a cab, I walked past our building Starbucks longing for a latte, but restraining myself nonetheless. I can’t wait for daylight savings to being – the morning darkness just wrecks me.

Life’s been hectic and busy, but then again, it’s year-end and whose life hasn’t been this way? Who isn’t trying to remind their management that they’re not only a worthwhile employee, but one that should be rewarded at the end of December for all their hard work in the last twelve months?

I sneak time in the wee hours when I arrive to my desk while I’m letting the caffeine kick in and during lunch, to read news, personal email, and food blogs as I look for inspiration of what to make for dinner. Would it be better if I could plan every meal in advance? Without a doubt – but sometimes, I put that ground turkey in the fridge to defrost and scratch my head. We just did turkey chili, so something else will have to do. Blogs are perfect for people like me – they’re like electronic cookbooks to go. I don’t have to take the Martha Stewart oeuvre on the train with me (I’ve done that before – you get some odd looks) – I can access some great, creative stuff from typing a few links on my keyboard.

Case in point, this great idea from the Clumsy Cook – who, in my opinion, isn’t clumsy at all – at least, not with her culinary endeavors. The tamale pie sounded terrific – a one pot meal that seemed comforting, filling, different. And with ground turkey waiting to be made into something fabulous – I wanted to give this a go.

I took a few liberties, however, namely substituting turkey for beef and omitting the cheese – since KS is lactose intolerant, we skip dairy when we can. Undoubtedly, I think this recipe would benefit from melted cheese, but in my opinion, very few things would not. All in all, this reminded me of shepherd’s pie, only with a south-western twist. Had I thought ahead, I would’ve made a meal bowl of guacamole for us to snack on as a side dish. Next time, I promise.

For a working person, this dish is one of those creations you’re likely to repeat over – it’s a one pot meal, delicious, filling and comforting especially in cold weather, not to mention the details that will make or break your weeknight cooking experience, especially if you’re like me and are making dinner closer to nine o’clock at night. The fact that it’s all in one pot, makes it super easy to assemble and just as easy to clean up. And who doesn’t like that?

½ lb ground turkey
½ lb hot chorizo sausage (about 2 links), out of the casings
2 small yellow and purple bell peppers, seeded, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 poblano peppers, sliced (reserve some slices for decoration later – 1 poblano pepper for decoration works great)
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh corn cut off 2 ears
6 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded [omitted in this version, but highly recommended]
1 tsp ground chili pepper
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp cinnamon

For the topping:

2 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp butter

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF

2. In a medium dutch oven, begin to sauté onions and peppers (reserving a few slices of the poblano for later). When onions are translucent, add garlic, ground turkey, and chorizo and break it up into pieces. Cook for 10 minutes then add cheese (if using), corn, and spices.

3. Meanwhile: Bring water, cornmeal, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer, stirring, until cornmeal thickens. Turn off heat, add butter, and stir.

4. Using a rubber spatula, spread cornmeal mixture over the meat mixture. Decorate with reserved poblano slices. Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 40 minutes.

Serves 4.


  • deb

    Considering that you hit the gym in the morning and still get to work at the crack of dawn and then leave late, and even if you did not, I am always incredibly impressed that you get to cook at all, ever. Don’t be so hard on yourself! I waste money on cabs now and then too, of course for me, its a measly $7 and since I gave up my Starbucks habit, I’ve been feeling like I earned it! Tsk tsk.

  • radish

    Deb, i’ve got to confess, until daylight savings kicks in, I’m not going to the gym in the AM, only after work. :-)
    Lydia – I forgot to mention that we put hot sauce on ours too – we pretty much put hot sauce on anything we can!

  • clumsy

    I’m so glad I inspired your dinner! We ended up putting hot sauce in ours too… I’m always afraid something will be too hot when I’m cooking, and then I need to kick it up on the plate. And I love that you use fresh corn… I’d been so sick of cutting kernals off the ears after a summer-long of corn recipes, but when I make this again, I’ll try and use the real stuff!

  • StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

    I’m totally with you on the morning darkness. I hate driving my daughter to school when it feels like the middle of the night!
    The tamale pie looks like a great week night dish. Fewer pots and pans to wash works for me.

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