Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recipe - Taco Pie!

I've had a few requests for this one so I'm paying attention to how I make it and posting the recipe as a blog..  It's not fancy, it's tasty, it's easy to throw together in about 20 minutes after work, on the table in an hour and it can be adjusted to your personal taste (spicy or mild).  I refer to it as 'taco pie' as kind of a joke to it's very primitive roots and lack of culinary flair.  But hey, it really does taste good!

The basic principle is that you're taking taco meat, putting some salsa on it, topping it with cornbread and baking.  So let's get started:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Step one, always step one, make sure your oven is heating up while you throw the rest of this mess together.

You'll also need a baking dish (5 quarts, approximately 15x10 inches), a medium sized mixing bowl and a large skillet.


Meat Filling:
2 packages ground turkey (I prefer the 93% lean, but you can use any ground meat)
2 packages taco seasoning (you can also make your own, I doctor mine up by adding some garlic and onion)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion chopped (I prefer sweet or red onions)
3/4 cup of water (or as needed)
optional - 1 can fine diced tomatoes or 1 jar of salsa
optional - 1 can chopped green chili's

1 16 oz jar of salsa

1 large egg
1 1/3 cups of milk or buttermilk
2 cups of self rising cornmeal
1 14.75 oz can of creamed corn

1 cup shredded cheese (you can use more or less to your taste or skip this step altogether.

Browning the meat
brown meat, breaking apart with a spatula.  Add taco seasoning, chopped onion, chopped garlic and water -cook until onions are softened and seasonings are well mixed.  You can also do this with meat straight out of the freezer as I had to do tonight.  My husband seemed to be of the opinion that the freezer is where you store meat and put the meat that was purchased yesterday in the freezer for safe-keeping.  When I use ground meat straight from the freezer I just flop it in the pan, cover it to help it steam through and keep scraping layer after layer off with a spatula.  The tricky part being to not have meat plains ...but a little chopping action with your spatula can help with this.  Using frozen meat will add about 10 minutes to your prep time.  You can also use veggie meat crumbles or my preference would be some nice black beans for your vegetarian friends - although this really isn't a good choice for vegans with the dairy and eggs.
Spread the meat in the pan

Now, spray some non-stick cooking spray or olive oil in your baking dish.  This isn't required, but will help keep the cornbread from sticking. when it comes time to get it out of the pan, but lightly is enough.

Spread the cooked meat mixture into the bottom of the pan.  I typically don't pack it tightly, I just smooth it so the meat mixture is well distributed.

Salsa on top of the meat, don't mix
Top the meat mixture with the jar of salsa (you can use any type you prefer, I like traditional Salsa Verde, I think the green color is a nice contrast to all the yellow and brown of this dish
 - the hotter your salsa, the spicier your dish)

don't over mix your cornbread
Prepare cornbread.  Don't over mix your cornbread as it will make it dry.  Take the self rising cornmeal, one egg and the milk and mix until just blended.  Then add the can of creamed corn.  This is an ingredient that my mother finds horrifying.  Personally, I would not ever eat plain canned creamed corn - but in cornbread it is awesome.  It adds moisture and the right amount of sweetness.  It's a trick I learned from an ex boyfriend (and honestly the only good thing I got out of that relationship).  So please, trust me.  It will make the cornbread nice stuff.  Just do it.  And if you don't and your cornbread is dry, don't come whining to me.

ready for the oven
lightly spread the cornbread, don't mix
Lightly mix the creamed corn into the cornbread mixture and spread over the meat and salsa gently.

Properly cooked cornbread!
Place it into your preheated oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.  When the timer goes off, you'll want to make sure your cornbread is done.  It should be starting to brown and crack on the top.  You can use a smaller / deeper dish to make this, but it will increase your cooking time if the cornbread is thicker.
Sprinkle the cheese across the top

Once the cornbread is cooked through, sprinkle your shredded cheese across the top and place back in the oven to melt the cheese.  When the cheese is melted you'll want to remove the dish from the oven and let it cool and set-up for about 5-10 minutes.  This will make it easier to scoop and neater to serve.

To serve:

Use a large spoon to scoop away a portion of the cornbread with the meat.  Scoop any meat left on the bottom of the pan into the dish.

Finished dish!
Suggested toppings:  Sour cream, sliced green onion, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa, taco sauce, (and my favorite) Chipotle Tabasco - which has a great smoking flavor, not too thick, not too thin.

I like to plate this, as just plopping the pan on the table with fixings really doesn't make for a pretty dish - and you eat with your eyes first!

Surprisingly, leftovers keep fantastically.  The cornbread doesn't get too soggy and yet maintains enough moisture.  Ultimately this is a casserole.  But it's a tasty twist on a casserole, is pretty good for you if you use ground turkey and don't go crazy with the cheese and sour cream.  Reheat it the next day for an easy meal that doesn't taste of leftovers!