Filed under: in the kitchen
This was an experiment for me, to try out combining several favorite components into something new. It resulted in a richly flavored casserole based on corn tomalito, a sweet Tex-Mex steamed pudding. The recipe takes some advanced planning if you make it the way I did, but there are two substitutions to make it quicker: use canned beans instead of dry, and sauté and chop the chicken instead of stewing it.
- 1 lb pre-marinated chicken from a Hispanic market (raw from the butcher section, covered in spices and chopped veggies)
- 8 oz dried black beans
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tsp cumin
- 5 tbsp butter, softened
- 1/4 cup masa harina (corn meal treated with lime – also from the Hispanic market)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups canned or thawed frozen whole-kernel corn
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp milk
- 2 oz Monterey Jack cheese, plain or peppered
I broke this recipe down across three days because I used my crockpot for both the beans and the chicken and I could only do it one at a time. You can speed it up by simmering on the stove in multiple pots, or using the previously mentioned ingredient substitutions. Me, I was happy to do it in bits, especially bits I could walk away from.
The “Crust” (from Allrecipes)
In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, masa flour, and sugar until light and fluffy (I used a stand mixer). In a food processor or blender, blend one cup of the corn kernels with the 1/2 cup water and cornmeal just until smooth. Stir into the masa mixture. Mix in the remaining corn, baking powder, salt, and milk until the batter is smooth. Pour into a microwave safe dish and cover tightly. Microwave at 30% for seven minutes, and at 100% for four more minutes. Let stand in microwave five to ten minutes. Fluff with a fork (and taste it….mmmm). If you’re splitting the recipe up, this part is done and you can put it in the fridge until the day you assemble the pie.
Dump the chicken into your crockpot, add 1/2 to 1 cup water, turn it on high and come back in five to seven hours. Shred with two forks, drain excess liquid out, and put in the fridge until the day you assemble the pie.
The Black Beans
Sauté the onion in a little bit of oil until it gets soft. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add cumin, stir well, and cook until cumin is fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Put onion mixture in clean crockpot. Add rinsed and sorted beans and enough hot water to completely cover everything, usually about 4-5 cups. Cook on high for six to seven hours or cook on high for a couple of hours (as you are home/awake) and then turn on low and leave for up to nine hours (as you go to work/sleep). Check water level before you sleep/leave and add more if needed. Use this opportunity to stir as well. When beans are done, salt to taste, then put in fridge until the day you assemble the pie.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and grate your cheese.
Pat the tomalito into the bottom of an oven safe dish, just like a pie crust. Use all of it.
Layer on the chicken, then the black beans (you may or may not use all of these), then the cheese.
Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until the cheese melts and the other ingredients bubble.
Considering that after my lunch today there will be none of this left, I think it was a successful experiment. It probably should serve six people, dished up with fresh diced tomatoes, pico de gallo, or a side salad. If you get to spooning it in your mouth and you can’t stop saying mmmm, this is good, it’ll probably only make three to four portions. If you find yourself in the fridge at midnight stealing from the pan, even less portions than that…
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