It seems that every time I get ready to do a dish for I Heart Cooking Clubs something gets in my way. Well not this time!! THIS time I had a recipe aleady and the dish completed. So take that, Time Consumers!!!!
Lucky for me this is Potluck week for IHCC so it was a pretty laid back event. No rushing to find a Henry recipe with the right theme. No searching thru 1000s of recipes for just the right one. I have had this Bittman recipe marked for awhile.


Bittman calls this a Tamale Casserole. I would rather think of if as deconstructed tamales. So. Much. Easier. than rolling up the tamales and then wrapping them in shucks and steaming them. All the flavor without all the work. Well, almost all the flavor.

I liked it but I didn’t love it.

    1 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind)
    1 1/2 cups hot water, or more as needed. {Boiling water would help cook the cornmeal and thicken it better.}
    2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
    8 ounces ground beef, pork, or lamb
    Black pepper
    1 onion, chopped
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    8 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped (canned are fine; drain their juice) {I used regular canned tomatoes}
    2 cups corn kernels (frozen are fine)
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or shredded cheese, for garnish

Heat the oven to 400°F. Combine the cornmeal, hot water, and a tsp salt and stir until smooth. Set it aside
Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet. Add the meat and season with salt and pepper. and cook until nicely browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
Lower the heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes more, stirring periodically. If the mix is dry you can add some more oil. Remove from the heat and add the chili powder, tomatoes, and corn.
Incorporate the baking powder into the cornmeal mix which should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if not, add a little more water. Spoon the batter into the skillet on top of the filling and spread it around a bit. Bake until the cornbread has cracked and turned golden and is cooked all the way through – 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with the cilantroshredded cheese and serve hot or at room temperature.

I found this to be a little dry. I would suggest saving some of the canned tomato juice or adding some tomato juice. And more salt in the cornmeal mix would help a lot as well. The seasoning for the filling, however, was spot on. Maybe adding a litte cumin to the cornmeal?
Again, I didn’t love it, but I would make it again with those small changes.

The original recipe is on page 339 of Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook

I made this for IHCC Potluck. Check out the other choices this week.