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In the Kitchen: Tamale Pie

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Yield: 4 servings.

2 bell peppers
2 poblano peppers
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 pound Neese’s Country Sausage or Hot Country Sausage
1 medium onion, medium diced
2 medium zucchinis, medium diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 cups chicken stock or broth
Coconut oil, as needed
3 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
1 cup masa
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
½ of a small red onion, minced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 lime
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Set your oven to broil. Place whole peppers on a sheet tray and broil until blackened, 4 to 5 minutes. Rotate the peppers and repeat this process a couple times until the skin is completely black and charred. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic film and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, discard the seeds and medium dice.

Adjust the oven temperature to 375° and prepare the tamale pie: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Add the sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once cooked, pour into strainer or colander to separate the fat, reserving the strained fat for later.

In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil and sweat the onions, zucchini and poblanos until slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tomato paste, cumin, and ancho and cook, stirring, until heated through. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the strained sausage back into the pan. Continue to simmer everything in the pan for about 10 minutes.

Measure the reserved sausage fat and add enough coconut oil to reach ¼ cup total fat. Whisk the eggs and milk into the fat. Set aside. Separately, in a large bowl, whisk the masa, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour in the egg/fat mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the cheese.

At this point, the sausage and vegetable mix should be thickened. Taste it to adjust seasoning and then transfer it to a 9-inch square baking dish, or use the pan it’s been cooking in.

Spread the masa batter over top in an even layer; (it’s okay if it doesn’t cover the entire surface). Bake in the center of the oven until top is golden brown and bubbling around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. Remove the film from the bowl of peppers and peel away the skin. Dice up the peppers, disposing of the seeds, and place in a clean bowl. Add red onion and avocado.

Season with lime juice, cilantro, and salt to taste. Top scoops of tamale pie with salsa and serve.

This story was published on Nov 19, 1933

Alyssa Wilen

A Charlotte native, Wilen spent more than 12 years in the restaurant industry where she worked her way up to the role of Executive Chef before opening Chef Alyssa's Kitchen in 2013. She teaches award-winning cooking classes, hosts a Saturday brunch, and has created a family dinner meal service.