Chicken Tamale Pie

I found this recipe in the 75th anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking, and I couldn’t wait to try it. It went really well, so I decided that I wanted to share the recipe with the UNIVERSE. Because, as you all know, the highest percentage of my readership is on Saturn. It’s true. So, hi Saturnians. Hope things are going good with your methane festival.

Anyway, the recipe is for “chicken tamale pie,” but I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t use beef, penguin, hippopotamus, pork, or whatever ground animal flesh you want. (If you use tofu, however, I will feed my cat ALL THE METH IN WARSAW and have it attack you. Fair warning.) We used ground turkey for ours, but next time I want to try it with some shredded pork. So do your thing. I AM NOT THE BOSS OF YOU. (You can use tofu if you want to. I’m sorry for my outburst. You have to understand: I ran out of this a week ago AND I WANT MORE. *twitch, twitch*)

The difficulty setting of this recipe is a new game of Tetris.

Make sure you have this stuff first:

  • 1 ½ pounds of ground turkey
  • 3 cups (one 24 ounce jar) of salsa
  • ½ cup black olives
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ⅓ cups water
  • 1 cup chicken/vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups (better part of a 24 ounce container) cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) grated Cheddar
  • ¼ cup hot water (keep separate from the other water)

1) At some point in this culinary adventure, you’re going to need your oven to be at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you might as well get it out of the way. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Done? Good.

2) Then, over medium heat, fry up the ground chicken or turkey (or, again, whatever). Drain the fat. Consider loading the fat into a crop duster and spraying it over the fields of your enemies. Just think about it, okay? No one’s forcing you. But they will be overrun with feral cats! Can’t you just picture it?

3) Lower the heat and add the following: salsa*, black olives**, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon. Mix it all together and bring the heat back up, until it is gently simmering. Let it do that for 10 minutes. You’ll want to stir it once in a while, but you can do Step 4 while it’s simmering. When it’s done, cover it with the lid and remove it from the heat. PLEASE NOTE: You will be tempted to just grab a spoon and eat this. Or possibly to stick your face in. Resist said urge. It burns.

4) In the small sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups H2O and 1 cup chicken broth to a boil, then immediately cover it and take it off the heat as well.

5) In the large mixing bowl, drop in baking powder, salt***, and vegetable oil. Whisk that shit together until the oil is cloudy and drop in 3 cups of cornmeal****, then whisk that shit together until all the cornmeal is coated. (In the interest of preventing carpal tunnel, it may be prudent to add one cup at a time and incorporate it before adding more.)

6) Remember boiling the broth and water from, like, a whole step ago? Pour it in there with the shiny cornmeal. WHISK THAT SHIT NOW. (Good Lord, how much whisking can I ask you do to?)

7) You know the measuring cup you used to measure out how much stock and water to put in the pan? I hope you still have it handy. Bust 2 eggs into that and beat them like they owe you child support.

8) Now, leave it alone for five minutes. Walk away. Go watch a cat video.

9) When the five minutes I told you to walk away is up, drop the eggs into the batter AND WHISK IT SOME MORE. (When a problem comes along, I say whisk it*****.)

10) Got it all mixed up? Sweet, now pull a cup and a half of it out of the mixing bowl and put it into the measuring cup. Add ¼ cup hot water. Stir and set aside.

11) Take your big ass baking dish and grease it up like Christmas stripper. (You totally could have done this while the batter was settling, but NO you had to go watch a cat video, didn’t you?)

12) Take the majority of the batter and pour it in. Spoon the meat evenly on top of that. Now, put 3 cups of shredded Cheddar on top of that. Because, cheese, that’s why. Then, evenly spread the diluted, bogarted remnants of the batter on top of that.

13) Put it in the oven for 40 minutes, or until brown. Cackle madly as you do so.

14) After you pull it out of the oven, let it sit for 15 minutes before you cut into it. Go make love, and then do something else for 13 minutes after that, like sing the Divinyls “I Touch Myself” four times.

15) Cut into that sucker and enjoy. It will be hot enough, even after sitting, to punish sinners. So get some sour cream, maybe a Mexican beer or seven and enjoy. You may be tempted to stab those around you for a corner piece. This will serve six very hungry people, so expect to have some left overs. It is incredibly filling.

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* If you make your own salsa or buy in bulk, then this comes out to be three cups. It doesn’t matter what kind you use. Protip though: if the first ingredient is tomato paste or high fructose corn syrup, go buy something else. Despite my rabid anti-Wal-Mart opinions, the GREAT VALUE Black Bean and Corn Salsa is really good if you add this chipotle sauce.

** Or a ½ cup of green. Or screw you, leave them out cause you hate olives. The dish will survive either way.

*** I use the dried remnants of my children’s tears, but hey, feel free to use kosher or table salt. Whatever you happen to have.

**** This is the equivalent of a 24 oz. container of cornmeal. I learned this because I thought I had enough and I didn’t, so I had to leave the batter halfway through to run to the store. A testament to how unfuckable this dish really is.

***** Please Devo, don’t sue me.