• Leigh

Feed a Crowd: Cheap and Easy Tamale Bake


Need to feed a crowd for the big game or just because? How about an inexpensive and incredibly easy tamale bake? The casserole isn't authentic--far from it--but it is exceptionally good and great for a casual get-together. No one will walk away hungry. Just put out the tamale bake, a big green salad, chips, guacamole, salsa, green onions, and sour cream, and you've got a great spread. If you want an extra side dish, you could add a bowl of rice, but it isn't necessary. The tamale bake is filling. Although the recipe calls for ground beef, if you'd prefer, you can substitute ground turkey or use cooked, shredded chicken. I've used both to good effect. The tamale bake isn't spicy, so for family members and guests who like heat, you may want to put out the hot sauce and jalapeños.

Tamale Bake -- Serves 8+

1 1/2 cups of Mexican cheese blend (or half each cheddar and Monterey Jack)

1/3 cup of low-fat milk

1 egg

2 teaspoons of ground cumin, divided

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1 14-15-ounce can of creamed corn

1 7-ounce can of chopped green chilies (undrained)

1 small box (7-8 ounces) of corn muffin mix (such as "Jiffy")

1 large jar (about 24 ounces) of mild salsa

1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef (93 percent)

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

2 teaspoons of dried cilantro leaves

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

1 14-16 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained

1 14-16 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a large casserole dish (3 quarts, or 9 x 13) with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the cheese, the milk, egg, cumin, pepper, corn, and chilies and mix them well. Stir in the cornbread mix. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and bake it for 15-20 minutes or until barely set. While the cornbread mixture is baking, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, crumble in the ground beef and saute it for 6-7 minutes. Add the onion and saute it with the beef for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the garlic powder, oregano, cilantro leaves, pepper, and salt. Add the diced tomatoes and black beans and let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors and cook off some of the juices. When the cornbread layer is ready, remove it from the oven and, with a fork, poke holes all over the cornbread layer. Pour half of the salsa over the cornbread layer, spreading it evenly. Pour the ground beef mixture over the top of the salsa and spread it out. Pour the remaining salsa evenly over the ground beef mixture and then sprinkle the remaining cheese evenly over the top of the tamale bake. Return the casserole dish to the oven and bake it for about 30 minutes or until bubbling and the cheese has melted. Let the dish stand for 10-15 minutes, sprinkle on the fresh cilantro, and serve the tamale bake warm.

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