Cast-Iron Green Chile Tamale Pie

We found this version of Tamale Pie in a recent issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. Its name is due to the awesome layer of cornbread that sits on top of the ground beef (or ground turkey) filling, mimicking masa-wrapped, meat-filled tamales. In lieu of more traditionally used canned tomatoes, this Southwest riff favors green chiles and tangy, tomatillo-spiked salsa verde.

As is often the case, we put our own spin on the recipe. In this instance, we doubled the amounts of beans and onion. Originally I planned on using ground turkey in place of ground beef, but the supermarket was out of it. (Still dealing with COVID supply and delivery issues two years later!)

After it was fully cooked, and I went to spoon out a portion, there seemed to be a fair amount of liquid in the bottom of the skillet. Once in my dinner bowl however, the fluid soaked up into the cornbread topping. Perhaps replacing the zucchini with red pepper—which has less moisture content—would be a good alternative and add a nice pop of color.

Based on some of the ingredients, you may think it is spicy. And yes, it does have a slight kick, but I wouldn’t scale back on any of the suggested amounts. An alternative, if spice is just not your thing, incorporate milder salsa verde and chopped green chiles. We both thought that the leftovers, when reheated, were even better than the first go-around—plus any liquid had been reabsorbed.

Cast-Iron Green Chile Tamale Pie

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the filling

  • 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup mild or spicy salsa verde; more for serving
  • 1/2 cup cooked black or pinto beans
  • 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen yellow corn kernels
  • 1 4-oz. can mild or spicy chopped green chiles (undrained)
  • Kosher salt

For the cornbread topping

  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves; more for garnish
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
  • Sour cream and avocado slices, for serving


Make the filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a deep 10-inch wide cast-iron skillet, cook the beef over medium-high heat until browned, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the zucchini, onion, and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the salsa, beans, corn, green chiles, and salt. Remove from the heat.

Make the cornbread topping

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, and set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, cilantro, and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until combined.
  3. Scatter half of the cheese over the beef mixture in the skillet, then pour the cornbread batter over and spread to the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  4. Bake until cornbread is cooked through and golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  5. Serve with additional salsa, sour cream, and avocado slices. Garnish with cilantro.

Adapted from a recipe by Liz Pearson for Fine Cooking

2 thoughts on “Cast-Iron Green Chile Tamale Pie

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