Tamale Pie


Growing up, I was never much of a television watcher.  Partly, that was because I just didn’t have that much time with all of my extracurricular activities, and partly it was because I really preferred reading.  Yes, I was one of those.  These days, I still prefer reading, but I have recognized that there are certain joys to collapsing on the couch and turning your brain off for an hour or so, especially after a long day of reading LEXIS printouts.  I still don’t have that much time, though, so a show has to really capture my attention for me to actually invest in it.  When a show succeeds in getting my undivided attention, I find that I want to know everything about the characters.  I check out websites… read news articles… and (confession time) I even bought The Desperate Housewives Cookbook.  (What can I say?  I enjoy the show enough to want to make Bree’s Basil Puree and Gabrielle’s Black Bean Soup.  Don’t act like you don’t have your own guilty pleasures.)

Recently, I discovered “Big Love” – an HBO show about a modern polygamist family.  It’s a great, well-written show starring some very big names – Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin – and I’m totally invested in the characters.  So when I found a fictional blog on the HBO website, “written” by Ginnifer Goodwin’s character Margene, I had to check it out.  And of course, when “Margene” posted a recipe for “Barb’s Tamale Pie” (Barb being the first wife, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn)… well, I absolutely had to make it for myself.  And I’m glad that I did!  The filling was savory and the cornbread topping was crisp and made the perfect counterpoint.  I’m considering stopping by the Henricksons’ for dinner… if they have room for me at the table.


Barb’s Tamale Pie

1 package lean ground turkey
1 shallot, minced
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice
1 poblano pepper, minced
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 package boxed cornbread mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill, but Jiffy is fine too) and other ingredients called for to make cornbread

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high and brown chopped shallot, yellow pepper and turkey.  Season with salt and pepper and add chili powder and cumin.
  • Drain any excess fat and transfer to a large heat-proof bowl.  Mix in cheese, minced poblano, canned tomatoes, chicken broth and golden raisins.  Stir together.
  • Pour mixture into a lightly oiled large baking dish and spread into an even layer.
  • Prepare cornbread mix according to package instructions.  Spread over meat mixture.
  • Bake 40 minutes, until top is browned.

Yield: Serves one polygamist, three wives and eight kids.  If your family isn’t quite that big, feel free to halve the recipe or resign yourself to leftovers.

Source: Adapted from Margene’s Blog