Upside-Down Tamale Pie

I've used a chunky salsa with plenty of built-in seasonings as the basis of the meat filling. I could have used a cornbread mix for the[ topping, but I find them too sweet. Besides, it's easy to do a from-scratch cornbread if you assemble the components while the meat filling cooks.]

Makes 6 servings
  • For meat filling:
  • 2 tablesppoons extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen onions (2 medium yellow onions)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Half of a 1-pound bag frozen bell pepper stir-fry mix (red, green, and yellow peppers; do not thaw)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 pound lean ground beef chuck
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One 1-pound jar chunky salsa (as mild or hot as you like)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • One 9-ounce package frozen whole-kernel corn (do not thaw)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • For corn bread topping:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 extra-large egg
For meat filling:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  • To prepare meat filling, heat oil in 11- to 12-inch, deep, oven-proof skillet over moderate heat 1 minute. Add onions, garlic, and stir-fry mix and cook, stirring, until onions are limp and golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Add chili powder, oregano, and beef, breaking up clumps. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Blend in flour, add salsa and tomato paste, stirring well to incorporate, then add corn and simmer uncovered 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until meat shows no signs of pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper, mix in cilantro, and set off heat.

For corn bread topping:
  • To prepare corn bread topping, combine flour, cornmeal, and all remaining dry ingredients in bowl and make well in center. Combine buttermilk, oil, and egg in 1-quart measure, dump into well in dry ingredients, and mix briskly just until dough holds together. Spread on top of meat filling, leaving 1- to 1 1/2-inch margin all round.

  • Bake uncovered until bubbly and brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve at once.

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