Tamale pie isn't something I'd made much before either. I guess I'm a more adventurous cook these days than I was before. Actually, I'm not sure it hasn't more to do with necessity. I mean, when you live alone, there's not much sense in cooking. In the old days I survived mostly on yogurt, salad, Lean Cuisine and maybe some sushi from down the street - oh and the odd burger from A & W too - oh, and we mustn't forget the wine. I ate less and of course the scale reflected the somewhat healthier lifestyle, but you know what? I wouldn't trade a darn thing.
Tamale Pie is a cheater form of a mexican delicacy. Believe me, the real thing is a long and involved process, as you can see from this great web site that shows you how they're made http://www.sonofthesouth.net/tamales/Tamale_Recipe.htm . Lacking the time or inclination - mostly inclination, the cheater version seemed more appropriate. Now don't get me wrong, it is delicious, but in no way, shape or form is it anything at all like an authentic tamale. Download Tamale Pie
The base of the casserole is much like chili, with ground beef, onions, pepper, spices, black beans and a tomato base. In fact, I venture to say you could make tamale pie out of left over chili. The topping is simply a cornbread batter, poured over the meat base and then baked. The key is not to over-cook the cornbread topping. Take it out of the oven when it is just slightly underdone and it'll have more of the "tamale" consistency. We enjoyed it, but then again, we'll eat almost anything that has enough spices in it.