Don’t have masa handy? Here’s an option.
Remember when we talked about nixtamalized corn yesterday in the tortillas post? The mashed nixtamalized corn, or masa, is the traditional filling for tamales, and the treatment helps the corn to form the dough-like texture needed to fill tamales. But the difficulty of acquiring fresh masa in many places resulted in the development of the tamale pie, a casserole iteration of the dish. It’s a bit like a baked polenta.
Here’s a version from the December 21, 1923 edition of The (St. Petersburg, Florida) Evening Independent:
Tamale Pie For A Filling Luncheon
Tamale pie is an unknown quantity to the average cook, and may be, we fancy, of many varities. This tamale is well seasoned, but not peppery.
Apart from the pleasure of eating it, it is a pleasure to market for it, since you will need only your change purse with you; the billfold may stay at home. Starting out to purchase a cut of the round, our butcher sternly refused to sell us anything but the shin when we told him our purpose. With two pound of solid meat and a couple of bones thrown in, we had the makings of a meat dish and a soup.
2 pounds boiling beef
Cover the beef with boiling water and gently boil it with the bay leaf and garlic until tender, adding the salt when it is about half cooked. Allow from two to three hours.
Remove the meat to a chopping bowl. To a quart of the stock add the cornmeal and boil for 15 minutes or until the meat is ready. Meanwhile chop the meat and season.
Line a buttered baking dish with the cornmeal and put in the chopped meat with enough stock to moisten. Cover with the cornmeal and bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for a half hour. Cooking the cornmeal in the stock gives it an unusually good flavor.
From the box of C.C. from Ceres, California.
2 Tbsp. shortening
1 large onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1 can tomatoes, 2-1/2 size
1 can creamed corn, #303 can size
1 tall can pitted olives
salt, pepper, chili powder to taste
1 c. uncooked cornmeal
2 eggs, beaten
Saute onion and garlic in shortening. Add meat and brown. Add tomatoes, corn, olives (juice included). Cook a few minutes; Add seasonings.
Fold in cornmeal gradually, stirring so it will not get lumpy. Add eggs, beaten; stir while mixing. Cook about 5 minutes.
Pour into buttered casserole; sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in 350 deg. oven 40 to 60 minutes until firm.