Betty's popular Tamale Pie (as printed in the Holladay Herald and modified by me (David Westwood)
Brown 1-1.5 lbs ground meat with 1/2 cup finely chopped onion & 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic salt / powder (or small quantity fresh minced garlic) and salt to taste. . .
Add and simmer: 1 15 oz. can Mexican Style stewed tomatoes, 1/4 to 1/2 cup salsa, 1-2 tsp chili powder, 1/2-1 tsp oregano, pinch of cumin / fresh cilantro. Sliced olives (optional)
On stove top at low heat in sauce pan or in microwave in 2 qt glass bowl cook : 3/4 cup cornmeal & 3/4 cup hominy grits in 6 cups broth (recipe says chicken, but beef or vegetable work as well imho) and 1.5 teaspoon salt (optional) stirring frequently. Cook until mush is soft and loses raw taste (Betty/Mom sometimes added 1 small can drained corn).
Line greased 9x13" casserole dish (or 12" diameter round glass baking/casserole dish / 2 8.5/9" diameter found glass baking bowls.) with cooked cornmeal/grits pour in meat mixture and top with remaining cornmeal/gits mixture. Sprinkle generously with grated cheese.
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
May be cooled and reheated (some say that improves the flavor) also freezes nicely.
Variation given to Vilo & me by Betty shortly after our marriage.
1 C. Yellow cornmeal
2/3 C. Hominy grits
~1/2 tsp salt
~5 C. Water
1 can corn (optional)
1 to 1.5 lb Lean ground meat (turkey) -- use faux ground meat or mixed chili beans if you are serving it to vegetarians.
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 can (~15 oz.) Mexican style diced or stewed tomatoes
1 small can chopped olives (optional)
1 can / 2 cups of cooked chili beans - black, red, pinto or mixed (optional)
1 small can chili peppers (optional)
Salsa to taste
chili powder to taste
cumin / cilantro to taste
1-2 cups grated jack, pepper jack or sharp cheddar cheese (or a mixture of cheeses including queso fresco if available)
Combine cornmeal & grits in salted water in a 2 quart sauce pan or 2 qt covered glass bowl cook on stove top stirring frequently or in microwave oven for 5 minute intervals, stirring between intervals. Continue until polenta mixture is thick.
-Note one may add some cheese, corn or olives to the polenta mixture once it has thickened.
Pour a layer of cooked polenta into the bottom of a glass casserole. Reserve some polenta for topping
Heat a large skillet and brown meat (or TVP) with onions. Season with salsa, chili powder, cumin/cilantro (& lime juice -DW) as desired / to taste. When meat has browned add the diced/stewed tomatoes with a little liquid and combine thoroughly. Add drained corn, beans and peppers if desired.
When meat mixture has thickened pour evenly over the layer of polenta (cornmeal/grits) in casserole. Put remaining / reserved polenta on top of meat mixture and cover with grated cheese.
Cook between 350 and 425 degrees F. until cheese bubbles.
The dish may be made a day in advance and refrigerated until warming before serving. May also be frozen for up to two weeks.