Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cowboy Stew Redux: Stellar Tamale Pie

Some people aren't really into leftovers.  But, I can hardly imagine a life without them.  Even though there are only two of us, I always cook for at least 4 people. Most of the time, we take the leftovers to work for lunch. On the rare occasion when I've cooked up more than four servings (or we don't need lunch the next day), I often throw the remainders into the freezer.

Even for those of us who take great joy from cooking, there are nights when we just don't feel like going through the effort.  These are the nights when most people order take-out (and trust me, we do that too).  But, it's such a joy to know that a delicious dinner is only a few steps away when you've got some leftovers on hand.

In this case, it was a tub of Pork Cheek and Black Eyed Pea Chili.  This stew-like concoction has big chunks of pork shoulder (or pork cheeks, if you can find them) and black-eyed peas that have been cooked in a combination of chicken broth and porter, and seasoned with plenty of Spanish smoked paprika.  This is the sort of chili that takes some time, but is well worth the effort -- especially since it makes plenty!  Its flavor also improves over time, like many other well-seasoned stews.

Since this particular chili is pretty meaty, and we tend toward the Veg-Head side of things, I decided to saute some kale & onions to add to the chili.  I cooked them right in my cast iron skillet so that I only had to dirty one pan.  When the onions were cooked and the kale was barely tender, I stirred in the chili and allowed it to reheat.
While the chili was reheating, I stirred together a quick cornbread topping -- whole wheat flour, cornmeal, some ancho chile powder, cumin...  I grabbed some shredded cheese to stir into the cornbread & scatter over the chili.  And then I spooned the topping onto the warm chili mixture.
Just 45 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and dinner was served! 
The pork was tender, the sauce rich and smoky. And the cornbread topping helped to sop up some of the juice from the stew and greens.

Even better than that, Peef declared it "one of the best dinners ever!"  Makes me wonder why we don't cook with leftovers more often.

Easy Tamale Pie

What are your favorite leftovers for repurposing?

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  1. What a great way to use leftover chili, not that chili by itself isn't an amazing leftover to start with

  2. Yay for leftovers! Why not remix it up and create something totally different? This is super perfect for chili, especially when we get back to the winter season.

  3. Word. We usually cook at least 4 servings and take the second helpings for lunch the next day.

  4. This looks like what I'd call just about perfect use of leftovers... And the chili sounds pretty amazing to start with!

  5. I have a hard time eating leftovers sometimes but this looks delicious! Anything with cornbread topping gets my vote for sure!

  6. I cannot remember the last time I didn't double a recipe - I'm always mindful of having something leftover for lunch the next day.

    I love black eyed peas and think they are so underused. They're like the bastard step child of the bean world. This entire concoction has me drooling and the only downside is that I have to make the chili first and won't be able to eat the Tamale Pie for several more days.

  7. I am one of those people who thinks leftovers are the best thing since sliced bread. (I mean just think of what you can do with BREAD leftovers - bread pudding, french toast, stratas). This tamale pie looks fantastic!

  8. I am the queen of leftovers. I cook about once a week (weekend) and eat leftovers ALL WEEK. As much as I love cooking, I cannot bring myself to do it after a day at work. I love tamale pie and I like your addition of the whole wheat flour in the crust. Great idea Lo!

  9. This is an awesome leftovers dish! I love the way you came up with it, added some stuff to it - and how you turned into something totally unique!

  10. I love leftovers! These look pretty spectacular. This is my first visit to your blog. I had intended to stop by and say hello, but began reading your earlier posts and stayed far longer than I planned. I really enjoyed myself and will be back as often as I can. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  11. Tamale Pie is my favorite way to use leftover chili. Yours looks great. My favorite way to top Tamale Pie is equal parts Bisquik and masa harina. Add enough water to make a thick batter and spread that over the filling before baking!

  12. You're on a kick with the south-of-the-border flavors! I similarly made quesadillas and red pepper rice for dinner.

    Tamale pie is such a good thing - so much easier and more homey (to us gringas) than rolling tamales.

    ...though if I had a wee abuelita to show me how, I'd be singin' a different tune.

  13. Leftovers are great and many times they're better than the first time around! That's one good looking tamale pie. This is my first time here and I know I will return!

  14. Wow, you're on a wild-west, Mexican binge lately! Love the enchiladas with mole. Now this cowboy stew looks amazing and by the way, these past two recipes are simple to make gluten-free. Adding the cornbread blobs is a brilliant idea. So was the kale and onions part. Great stuff here at Burp!

  15. Yum, really creative way to redo your leftovers.


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