If you’ve ever made tamales, then you know the entire process can be slightly labor intensive. Tamale pie is an excellent shortcut to save time but still get the same flavors. This dish dates back to the early 1900s and first appeared in Texas. Typically beef, pork, chicken, or chorizo is used, but I prefer venison like the ground antelope I used in this recipe.
Tamale pie is traditionally prepared in the oven but you could easily crank up the smoker or cook it in a Dutch oven over the campfire. Because it takes less than an hour and offers plenty of flexibility, it’s the perfect candidate for a work-night wild game meal.
- 1 tbsp. lard or oil
- 1 lb. ground venison
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
- 2 ears of corn with kernels removed
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 cup of queso fresco
- 14 oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 cups masa harina or fine ground cornmeal
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 cups wild game or beef stock
- ½ cup Mexican crema
- ½ cup melted butter
- Chili powder
Also works with
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- While waiting, bring a large cast iron skillet to medium-high heat on the stove. Add the lard or oil. Stir in the ground venison and allow it to brown slightly.
- Stir in the bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and corn, and allow it to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, ancho chili powder, and cumin. Allow the mixture to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Mix in the fire-roasted tomatoes with the juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow the mixture to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the queso fresco on top.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the masa, salt, and baking powder with a fork. Once mixed, stir in the game stock, Mexican crema, and melted butter. If the mixture appears to be too thick, then add some additional game stock.
- Scoop the tamale mixture on top of the ground meat and veggies. Use a wet spatula or your wet hands to spread the tamale mixture to the outer edges of the pan.
- Place in the oven and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top forms a nice crust.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Scoop the pie onto the plate and garnish with chili powder, crema, and cilantro.