This is a good weeknight meal, but also a great make-ahead item. I often cook the filling on the weekend, then mix up the cornbread crust the night before I intend to serve the pie. I leave both, in separate dishes, in the refrigerator; then all I have to do is spread the topping over the filling and bake. Dinner couldn’t be easier than that.
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, turkey, or bison
2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 cup diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced sweet bell pepper
2 cups cooked dark kidney beans or black beans
1 1/4 cups tomato puree OR, in a pinch, use marinara sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat or all-purpose flour (you can also substitute masa harina if you need a gluten-free crust)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup oil of your choice (coconut oil works well here) or melted butter
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
In a large skillet, prepare the filling by sauteing the meat, onions, garlic, and bell pepper in oil over medium-high heat until the meat is browned and the vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes. Add the beans, tomato puree, and seasonings and stir to combine. Allow the filling to bubble around the edges and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes to let the flavors combine. Transfer the filling to an 8×8 oven-safe dish.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the topping by whisking together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Combine the honey, oil, eggs, and milk, and add to the dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly just until all of the ingredients are moistened. Spread the cornbread batter evenly over the filling in the casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the crust comes out free of batter.