The recipe for easy tamale pie is about 50 years old. The directions were very sparse in the handwritten recipe I have. I have included another recipe for tamale pie that comes from the book “Foods Will Win the War and How to Cook Them” which was published in 1918. The booklet is a classic and contains many interesting recipes.
Tamale pie or casserole recipes are said to have first appeared in print in 1911. Some food historians say the recipes came about during WWI to fill the need to conserve meat. Following WWII many variations of tamale pie appeared and the dish was popular for potluck dinners and entertaining. Today there are many variations of the recipes. Almost any type of meat can be used in tamale pie including shrimp or fish.
Both recipes will serve approximately 6 adults.
Easy Tamale Pie
- 1 onion, medium, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 lb. of hamburger
- 1/3 cup of cooking oil
- 1 cup of whole kernel corn
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 3 teaspoons of chili powder
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 2 cans of pitted ripe olives
- 1 1/3 cup of milk
- 1 cup of yellow cornmeal
- 2 eggs, beaten
Grease a casserole dish. Prepare the onion and the garlic. Brown the hamburger and cook the onion in a large, deep pan. If you use a Dutch oven you can bake it in the same pan. Add some of the cooking oil if needed. Add the minced garlic. When the meat is cooked and the onion is tender turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Combine well and pour into the greased casserole dish.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes.
Serve with a salad.
WWI Tamale Pie
- 2 cups of cornmeal
- 5 cups of water, boiling
- 2 tablespoons of fat
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 onion
- 2 cups of tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked or raw meat cut in small pieces
- ¼ cup green peppers
To the cornmeal add 1 teaspoon of salt and boiling water. Cook one half hour. Brown onion in fat, add meat. Add salt, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, the tomatoes and green pepper. Grease the baking dish, put in layer of cornmeal mush, add seasoned meat, and cover with mush. Bake one half hour. (No oven temperature was given in the recipe. I think 350 degree F would be right.)
The first recipe mixed all the ingredients, including a cornbread batter, together in the dish. The second recipe layers the ingredients and uses cornmeal mush. Experiment and see which method works best for you.
Neither recipe has the casserole dish size. A standard rectangular baking dish or pan works.
Any meat can be used in the recipes.
Other vegetables can be added including hot peppers.
Chopped fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes or canned tomato sauce can be used in the recipes.
Whole corn can be canned, frozen or fresh.
The ripe olives should be sliced in half or in thin slices.
Neither recipe calls for cheese. You can add cheese, cheddar, longhorn, or other sharp cheese to the recipes. Cheese sauce is good over each serving.
Seasoning is a matter of taste. Use what you like. The cornmeal mush would be better if some chicken broth were used in place of some of the boiling water.
Another good sauce to serve over either recipe is chili gravy. It is a gravy made with beef or chicken broth, fat, and flour. About equal amounts of fat to flour, cook a few minutes and stir in the broth. Add chili powder to taste. It usually isn’t as thick as Southern chicken gravy.