Reimagining Classic Casseroles

It was super-cold in Chez Butter last night.  We’re currently in the midst of a remodel (the contractors just finished work on our kitchen and have moved on to the bathrooms) so I turn off the heat during the daytime since the contractors inevitably leave windows and doors open as they work.  Our cold house, combined with Seattle’s drizzly spring mean that I am in the mood for some comfort food and comfort reading, so I grabbed my new issue of Bon Appétit and snuggled under the comforter.

Imagine my surprise when I turned to an articled titled One-Dish Dinners: A fresh direction for old school casseroles!  Not only did the magazine take on the humble Tuna-Noodle Casserole, they even had a recipe for Tamale Pie.  I tend to give the stink eye to ‘updated’ versions of classics (hence the scare-quotes), but I am always up for trying recipes that don’t include cans of Cream of ________ Soup.

Growing up, my mom didn’t make many casseroles.  (As many of you know, she’s quite the home chef and was always experimenting with new recipes — ask her about Moroccan Chicken, sometime!)  I remember having Chicken Divan and a casserole that was inexplicably called Martha Washington (I have no idea why it’s called that?), but I don’t recall having some of the more standard one-dish meals.

So this weekend, I’m going to search through my stash of recipe cards and vintage cookbooks for a Tamale Pie recipe that does not contain cans of mysterious concentrated soups!  Making Tamale Pie sounds perfect this week, especially since Seattle’s mini-spring has left us and we’re back to our drizzly, grey days — that, and the contractors have left my house chilled to the bone, yet again!


  1. Reply
    Kate February 28, 2010

    Tamale Pie…I have never made it but Grandma has made it more than her fair share of times!

  2. Reply
    Jenn February 28, 2010

    We have a stripped down 1970s vegetarian tamale pie that we quite like. No surprise then that my tamale pie has very little in common with the Bon Appetit version.

  3. Reply
    alison February 28, 2010

    @Jenn I just found a vegetarian tamale pie from the 1940s. I’m going to post it soon!

  4. Reply
    Dushenka March 1, 2010

    Our Family Tamale Pie recipe is a caserole dish filled with cooked pinto beans covered with cornbread batter and baked until the cornbread is done.

    The beans are usually cooked with onion, tomato, salt and the cornbread is:

    1 1/4 c. flour
    3/4 c. corn meal
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 c. oil
    1/4 c. fructose
    1 c. water (and it does need to be water, not bean juice. 😉 )

    • Reply
      alison March 1, 2010

      Ohhh, that looks like a good recipe! 🙂 Thanks!

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