I had planned chicken enchiladas for dinner last night, but my tortillas got eaten by the resident troop of howler monkeys, I mean kids. Next best thing? Masa, baby. Polenta, grits, mush, whatever you want to call it. Talk about comfort food, and I have plenty in the good ol' food storage.
I love the traditional tamale pie with ground beef and green olives, so I tweaked the idea a little to use what I had around. Some good olives would still be a great addition, though.
This is really easy because of the canned sauce. If you have your own recipe for a good tomatillo/green chile sauce, use that by all means. That's not how my life goes right now, but if you're making some call me and I will come and tell you if I like it. Nice of me, isn't it?
Chicken Tamale Pie
3 c. yellow corn meal
6 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 large onion, 1/4" dice
Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 - 2 c. cooked chicken, chopped up (I used a mixture of light and dark grilled chicken meat, and I think the smokiness from the grill added a lot)
2 10-oz cans green chile enchilada sauce
1 medium sweet bell pepper, 1/4" dice (I used orange but I think any color would be fine)
ground black pepper to taste
8 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded
In a large saucepan, whisk together cornmeal, water and salt until no lumps are left. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until thick and soft (no crunchy granules of corn left) with all water absorbed. Set aside.
In a large skillet, saute onion in cooking spray until clear. Add chicken and 1 can of the enchilada sauce and heat through. Add bell pepper and stir. Season with pepper to taste.
In a large baking pan (think a big, deep lasagna pan) spread half the cooked cornmeal mixture. Spread chicken filling over it. Spoon remaining cornmeal mixture on top. Pour remaining can of sauce over all and top with shredded cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 12-14 servings - plenty for leftovers. All my kids but Sam ate and enjoyed it.
It will not serve up in nice squares like this photo when you first make it. Plan to scoop it out with a nice, big spoon. Those pleasing lasagna-like squares come the next day, when you get to eat it for lunch, like I am now.