Monday, December 10, 2012

Stock your Freezer 102: Chicken Tamale Pie

Have you decided to stock your freezer yet? Maybe you just want to make a large batch of something to take some to a sick friend or neighbor. Whatever the case may be, you should definitely try this Chicken Tamale Pie recipe. Tired of chicken? try making it with ground turkey or beef. Again, all the kinks have been worked out (especially with the crust recipe!) so go ahead and challenge youself to stock up for the cold winter months.

Chicken Tamale Pie

For the Filling:4 lbs. chicken breast
1 quart chicken stock/broth for poaching
¼ cup finely chopped garlic, divided
¼ cup olive oil, divided
3 small zucchini or yellow squash, diced (about 6 cups)
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 orange bell peppers, diced
4 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. chipotle chili pepper
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
10-oz. bags corn

For the crust:5 cups yellow corn meal
3 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. baking powder
7 eggs plus 1 white
3 ½ cups milk
1 stick butter, melted

1. Place chicken and stock/broth in a large pot. Bring to a simmer (small bubbles form) ; reduce heat and poach for about 25 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Remove from liquid and set on large pan to cool. Reserve poaching liquid for another use. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, chop into bite size pieces. This step can be done a day ahead of time.

2. Set up a large pot (like the one you just used for the chicken)  and a large skillet on the stove. The large pot will be a place for adding your ingredients, once they are browned in the skillet. Cooking the vegetables in small batches allows them enough space in the skillet to brown.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the large skillet over medium high heat. Cook  squash, along with 1 tablespoon or so of the garlic, for 5- 8 minutes until browned. Transfer mixture to the large pot and continue cooking with remaining oil, garlic and vegetables (cook green and yellow peppers in separate batches).

4. Once all cooked vegetables are in the large pot. Add the 4 cans of tomato puree, the cilantro and the spices to the pot. Simmer until just heated through. Do not add the corn (unless you have space in your pot). My pot was filled to capacity.

5. Prepare cornbread batter. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a another large bowl. Stir together until smooth.

6. Build the tamale pies! Divide chicken among 4 lasagna pans. I use the foils pans for easy clean up. Next divide sauce between the pans, spreading for even distribution. Sprinkle corn over top (if you did not add it to sauce in earlier step). Finally, divide cornbread batter over top and use a small spatula to evenly spread batter over filling. Don’t worry if you can’t cover the entire pie.

7. To freeze, cover with foil paper and then “cater” wrap with plastic. This means to keep food sealed until time of use. To do this, pull a long piece of plastic wrap onto work surface (out of box) and place plan atop. Bring wrap up and around pan (on both sides) to completely seal. Repeat process to cover any gaps.
8. To eat right away, bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and internal temperature of
filling is 160F.

Feel free to top with a slice of jack cheese or a dollop of light sour cream (or both!)


  1. Sounds wonderful!
    So, I wanted you to know that Chef Matt Cramer (from PA) had a lot of wonderful things to say about you yesterday. He works at Market District (where I am) now and he said you are AMAZING at what you do!! I think I already knew that :)

  2. omg! thank you so much! Have I met him? I am so bad with names! Was he at Shadyside before?