Friday, January 1, 2010

In With the New...Polenta and Tamale Casserole

Often what a cook needs is some new inspiration. I know that I get into cooking ruts and end up making the same stuff over and over. When I see that, then I try to reorganize my thinking and look at some cookbook from the library or recipes already in my collection that I've never tried.

So I've looked up a recipe a friend sent me once a couple years ago (Thanks, Wendy!). It was for something else, but the filling looked good for something I was making. I've made casseroles up and they are usually good. This one is a keeper. Tamale Casserole to the rescue.

First though, you need to cook up some cornmeal as follows:

Polenta

2 cups ground yellow cornmeal
5 cups water (divided)

Put 4 cups of the water into a large saucepan (the higher the sides the better) and bring to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, take the other 1 cup of water and combine it with the 2 cups of cornmeal mixing well and set aside (this helps to keep from getting lumpy polenta). When boiling, add the cornmeal carefully to the boiling water and whisk together until well mixed. Stir constantly. You will need to have a wooden spoon on hand for mixing once it gets thick and harder to stir. Cook until thick.

For the Tamale Casserole, you will need most or all of the recipe above. If you have extra, you can pour it into a loaf pan, cool and chill. Use this to make corn mush, by slicing (once firm) and pan fry.

Tamale Casserole

1 batch polenta recipe (above)

Saute together in small amount of oil:
2 small or 1 large onion, chopped
4 cups black beans, drained of liquid (or other beans)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Add:
2 cups salsa

Take bean/salsa mixture and put into a 9x13 in. ungreased casserole and top with the prepared warm polenta, smoothing out all over. Put into oven at 350 degrees F for about 20-30 minutes.

Toppings to have on the side:
shredded lettuce
vegan mayo/sour cream (if the salsa is a little on the spicy side)
nutritional yeast
hot sauce

Enjoy! I know we did!

4 comments:

Phoebe Miriah Kirby said...

I'm definitely going to make this. My husband and I have been craving these for such a long time!

Loretta said...

I edited the recipe to reflect a change in water proportions. It will work with the original amount of water...it will just not be as thick.

tandemingtroll said...

I tried this and my husband loved it but my kids didn't. The only thing I would change would be to add maybe a little bit of garlic or salt to the polenta recipe. I know that it is supposed to be "flat" to contrast with the bean mixture, but there was a little too much contrast.

Loretta said...

tandemingtroll: Please do change things to suite you. I always say, be creative and use what you have, make it the way you like, etc.

I have a hard time following recipes exactly, even the first time! =)

What you have learned is how to evaluate a recipe to make it better and that will be so helpful for you in the future.

I also love garlic and that sugggestion to add some to the polenta, sounds like a great one! =)

Keep reading!