Skillet Tamale Pie

Skillet Tamale Pie

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef, 95 percent lean
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 141/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 ear corn, kernels removed (or 1 cup frozen corn)
1 cup 50 percent light cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper
Corn bread topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Pitted whole black olives for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oil in 10- to 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, pepper, chili powder and cook until onion is soft, 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in ground beef, beans, tomatoes and corn and cook, breaking up meat until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in cheese and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside while preparing topping.

For corn bread topping, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk and egg together. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until uniform, then stir in melted butter until just combined.

Using a rubber spatula, dollop corn bread topping evenly over the filling, spread it into an even layer, covering the filling completely. Dot with whole pitted black olives, if desired. Bake until the topping is golden and has baked through completely in the center, 15-20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Filling can be prepared and kept in airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat gently, over medium low, adding water if needed, before spreading with topping and bake as directed. Serves 6-8.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen (Cook’s Illustrated) as reprinted in the Lincoln NE Journal Star newspaper, November 30, 2010.