Monday, July 14, 2014

Blue Ribbon Tamale Pie, Family Circle July 1949

This recipe, submitted by Mrs. Robert Estey of Alhambra, California,  took top prize in the Family Circle "Recipes Using Ground Meat" Contest.  (Hubby thought this was the best recipe contest ever.  He loves his meat!)  I'm sure back in 1949 this dish was considered to be a bit exotic, even in California.  I have to say, despite it's 18 ingredients and many steps,  this one's a keeper.  

Here's a pic of Mrs. Estey's Tamale Pie made in the Family Circle test kitchen.  

Here's my rendition made in my somewhat messy and untested kitchen.  

Like I said this recipe has 18 ingredients!!!  But they're all easy to find and the only thing I had to buy was the soup, corn meal, and the red pepper.  Here it is all laid out:

The big stainless steel canister in the back is flour and the small bowl in front is olives.

I took a picture of the recipe in the magazine but it's easier to read if I re-write it.  Mrs. Estey has it "Joy of Cooking" style where the ingredients are listed along with the directions.  I prefer a list of ingredients then the directions.

2 Slices bacon cut in half
1 Onion, chopped (I used 3/4 as mine was very large)
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb Ground beef
1.5 C Tomato soup (The original recipe called for condensed but I just couldn't buy over processed chemical ladened Campbells.  The organic version, even though it wasn't condensed, worked well.)
2t Chili powder
1/2t Salt
1/4t Paprika
Black or green olives (about 15)
5 Green or red pepper rings
1 and 1/2 C Corn, either canned and drained, frozen, or fresh
1C Flour
1C Cornmeal
1T Sugar
3t Baking powder
1t Salt
1 Egg
1C Milk
2T Shortening, melted

Step 1
Cook bacon in a 10 inch oven proof skillet.  Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel.  

Step 2
Saute onions and garlic in bacon grease until fragrant.  Remove from pan.

Step 3
Cook ground beef until no longer pink.  Drain fat if there's a lot.  

Step 4
Mix Chili powder, salt, and paprika in a small bowl.  Mix into ground beef.  Add onions and garlic back in.  Add tomato soup.  Mix well.  Then remove the mixture from the skillet.  I kid you not!

Step 5
Preheat your oven to 350.

Step 6
Arrange the bacon, pepper rings, and olives as shown in the pictures above.  Pour the corn over it.  Then spread the meat mixture on top.  

Step 7
Make the cornbread topping.  Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.  Measure out the milk and add the egg and melted shortening in a liquid measuring cup.  Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix.  Don't over mix.  Just combine.  

Step 8
Carefully spread the cornbread batter on top of the meat mixture.  Put the skillet into the oven for about 35 minutes or until the cornbread is lightly browned.  

Step 9
Remove the skillet from the oven and using hot mitts cover tightly with foil.  Wait about 10 minutes.  Remove the foil.  Place a large serving platter on top of the skillet.  Using hot mitts pick up the skillet and platter (like you're holding a big hamburger) and flip it over.  Slowly lift off the skillet.  Marvel in your accomplishment.  

Step 10 (OPTIONAL)
Make a sauce using 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce and 4 olives, sliced.  Pour around the pie.  I skipped this step.  The meat was moist enough and the troops were ready to eat!

This dish, having 18 ingredients (20 if you make the sauce.), has something for everyone.  My girls liked the beef and corn mixture but not the cornbread.  My son liked it all but said my regular cornbread recipe, which I copied off an old dish towel, was better.  Hubby, minus the red pepper, and I liked it all.  He even had seconds!  When I make it again I may try making my cornbread separately and serving it on the side.  Maybe I'll chop the bacon and peppers and mix them and the olives into the meat mixture to make it more of a casserole.  I bet then I could freeze the leftovers.

Does this sound like something you and your family would enjoy?  Let me know what you think!



  1. I love tamale pie - and this one looks great! Though, I think I would probably follow your idea of making it more of a casserole.

  2. I'll bet this homemade version tastes better than the quickie way I make mine. :) Not sure if mine is specifically Texan or not but we love our pinto beans here and include them in the recipe.

    Cooked seasoned ground beef, jar of salsa, pinto beans and grated cheese all mixed together then southern cornbread batter (very little flour if at all, buttermilk and no sugar!) poured over top and baked. So good!

    Love looking at these old recipes you share with us, Sarah.

    1. Pinto beans would be great in this. Nice idea, Aileen. Your recipe sounds like a weeknight winner. May have to try it when I need a quick meal. :)

  3. Yes, but with GF subs and turkey bacon. Yours looks just like the original!

    1. Thanks, Averyl. I was impressed with myself for making it look so close to the original. I'm not always great at presentation. Thanks for noticing. :)