Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Recipe: Tamale Pie (Casserole)

"Tamale pie" just sounds a lot better, don't you think? I know it's not very accurate, but "casserole" just evokes images of hideously decorated kitchens of the 70's and 80's, marigold, burnt orange and avocado, with open cans of Campbell's Condensed Mushroom Soup on the linoleum counter.

I first came up with this last summer with canned green chiles my mom sends, for the same reason I've made just about everything else: out of desperate hunger. This is basically a straight-out-of-the-pantry recipe, too, with almost no prep time. 

For 4 servings, you'll need:
- 1 can sweet corn
- 1 can creamed corn
- about 3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Polenta
- One medium Spanish onion
- Several cloves of garlic to taste
- 1 can kidney beans
- Around 4 - 6 canned whole green chiles
- Cooking oil
- Cornstarch, in case you want or need a thickening agent
- Toppings to taste. I recommend a spicy red or green salsa, green onion, and avocado to keep it vegan, but I think this would also be really good with cheese and/or chicken.

First, mince the garlic and roughly chop the onions and green chiles. You want those pieces to be fairly large so there's some contrast in texture. Toss the garlic and onions into a couple of tablespoons of oil and saute over medium heat until transparent, and maybe slightly browned. Throw in the green chiles, corn, and beans; salt lightly and toss well.

Once those are well-mixed, toss in the dry polenta, and once that's mixed in, add the can of creamed corn. If it doesn't seem to have enough moisture in it for the poleta to absorb, add a little water at a time. Keep over low heat and stir frequently until the polenta bits in the mixture are no longer hard, sprinkling in cornstarch if it gets too liquidy.

The last step, should you choose to accept it, is to spoon the mixture into a serving-size container of some kind and put it under the broiler for a few minutes. This would be a good time to put cheese on top if you're doing that. I think it'd be super smart to use a muffin tin, actually, with shredded (soy) chicken in the bottom, then a layer of cheddar, and then a hefty dollop of the mixture. After baking for a few minutes it should totally stay together, right?

Anyway, I always just use these ceramic baking dishes I got at a little thrift shop last year.

And viola! White people Mexican food that can be made almost any time, anywhere!