Monday, December 6, 2010

Tamale Pie

If you live in Chicago, and have never experienced the Tamale Guy, I feel very sorry for you. This man visits the local dive bars and sells steaming hot Tamales from his cooler. There are probably a few guys that do this throughout the city, but the one who frequents Innertown Pub and Happy Village in Wicker Park is the one who I seek out often.

When he walks into the bars, it's like seeing an angel. "Tamales! Tamales!" he shouts as he moves quickly through the bar. When you wave him over he quickly says "chicken? cheese? pork?" You tell him what type you'd like, hand him your $6 (I think it's $6...remember I am at a bar and it's usually past 12AM at this point) , and then enjoy a piece of heaven.

I haven't had tamales from the Tamale guy in quite awhile, so to soothe my craving I decided to make some Tamale Pie. This easy casserole took about 30 minutes to put together, and then baked for 40 minutes - pretty fuss free. I used ground turkey to cut down on the calories and fat, but if this wasn't your concern I would try substituting a mix of chorizo and ground beef. If you are a vegetarian, this could be made with MorningStar Crumbles.

While it didn't taste anything like the tamales from the Tamale Guy, it did hit the craving for Mexican Food I had!

Tamale Pie

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cup shredded mexican cheese blend
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 3 cups water
  • 1.5 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 jalapenos
  • sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Begin to saute the onion and peppers in the olive oil. Once onions are translucent (about 3-5 minutes), add the garlic, turkey, and spices. Cook for 5 minutes and add tomatoes and frozen corn. Cook 5 more minutes. Add cheese.
3. While cooking the filling, bring water and salt to boil in a small saucepan. Once boiling slowly whisk in cornmeal. Once thickened remove from heat and stir in butter.
4. With a slotted spoon, move turkey mixture into a 9x13 inch pan. Carefully smooth cornmeal topping over the turkey mixture.
5. Cut jalapenos into rings and remove seeds in the middle of the rings. Place on top of the cornmeal topping.
6. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.


  1. I love the tamale guy and this looks delicious! next time invite me over!!

  2. I stumbled across your blog, and this really does look delicious! i shall have to try it some time soon :)

  3. Thank you both!

    Nuttypigeon - I hope it turns out for you!

  4. Will you make this the next time I come to Chi Town... it looks delicious!

  5. I love tamales, there was a woman who sold tamales in the old Italian market in Philly, I love them!
    thanks for such a great recipe!

  6. This looks so delicious! I've never had tamales or made them- I think I shall give them a shot in the near future! Plus I know a good friend who would love this.


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