I mentioned recently on the Red, Round, or Green Facebook page that I was making tamale pot pie for dinner; I also happened to post the same information for a dinner group I belong to.  The results were the same in both places: “What is tamale pot pie, and will you share the recipe?”

The concept of tamale pot pie is not originally mine.  As a matter of fact, I seem to remember that at some point in my late childhood/early teen years, my mother found a recipe for something like it someplace — the back of a cornbread box, maybe, or cut out of a magazine with a taco seasoning coupon — and made it for dinner one night.  I was the only person in the household who actually liked it, even though, looking back, the crust was sort of mealy and it seemed dry overall.  But I liked (and still like) Mexican and Southwestern types of flavors, and tamale pot pie seemed at the time like a nice change-up in the dinner routine.  Unfortunately, as I was overruled, Mom never made it again.

Years later, I found a “light” recipe for it in a magazine, and I’ve made it off and on throughout my marriage to J.  The recipe was never quite right, but it was tasty enough and pretty simple to accomplish.  Finally, about a year and a half ago, I lost the recipe I’d been using, and I decided there was no reason to go fishing around on Google to find it again.  Heck, it’s tamale pot pie.  I know how to make tacos, chili, and cornbread without recipes — I could make this.

After a continual process of tweaking the recipe, I’ve finally hit on one that made J. say, “I must admit, the tamale pie is extra stupendous tonight.”  I’m not sure WHICH tweak, exactly, finally pushed it over the edge from “just okay” to “pretty darned good,” but I’m not going to question it too closely.  This is a very, very simple recipe that really just amounts to making a somewhat bastardized chili recipe in a skillet, then throwing the whole thing into a casserole dish and dumping cornbread batter on top.  It’s the culinary equivalent of speaking Spanglish.  But it’s a nice weeknight dinner, especially when the weather’s a bit chilly, and it’s PARTICULARLY nice with some sliced avocado (or guacamole — I won’t judge) alongside, and maybe a good sprinkle of cheddar cheese.  In other words, treat it as you’d treat a bowl of chili, and I think you’ll be happy.

Tamale pot pie — the side view.