Divine Tamale Pie

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Even now, more than forty years after the first Make It Now, Bake It Later! cookbook was published, we hear from people who still serve this dish when their best friends come to visit.

NotesThis dish is best if you start it a full day ahead; the meat mixture has more flavor if it stands


Cooking Methodbaking



Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentbaking/gratin dish

Mealbrunch, dinner, lunch

Moodblue, stressed

Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, meaty, savory, spiced, tangy, tart

Type of Dishsavory/pot pie


  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • One 5-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper
  • One 15-ounce can creamed corn
  • One 28-ounce can solid-pack tomatoes
  • One 6-ounce can ripe pitted olives, drained (1½ cups)
  • One package (8½-ounces) yellow corn muffin mix


  1. Now

  2. Generously grease a 7 × 11-inch baking dish, and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cornmeal, water, evaporated milk, and salt. Cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly, until thick. Spread the cornmeal mixture evenly over the bottom of the baking dish to form a crust. Set aside to cool.

  3. In a large skillet, cook the onion with the beef, crumbling the beef as it cooks, until all the red color is gone. Add the chili powder, cumin, and garlic salt, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add the corn and tomatoes, including their juice. Carefully spoon the beef mixture on top of the cornmeal layer that is now firm and cool in the baking dish. Dot the top with the olives. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.


  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare (but do not cook) the corn muffin mix according to the package directions. Carefully spread it on top of the beef mixture, making sure to spread to the edges. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F and bake for 40 minutes more.

  5. .


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