Chicken Tamale Pie

By Kendra Vaculin
December 20, 2014

Author Notes: A chunky chicken chili topped with a cornbread-y/polenta-y batter situation baked up to a crisp in your oven, also known as everything you want in one pot. If you're craving even more layers, top it with a scoop of salsa.Kendra Vaculin

Serves: 6
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 30 min

For the chili

  • 1 pound skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used one black, one Great Northern)
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (4-ounce) can hot green chilies
  • 1 (12-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (optional)

For the topping

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large pot or deep saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add cubed chicken, garlic, coriander, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Cook until chicken is browned on all sides, then remove and set aside.
  3. Add chopped onion to the pot and cook down until soft and fragrant. Add beans, corn, chilies, and tomatoes, including the liquid. If there is not very much juice with the tomatoes, add up to 1/4 cup chicken stock. You don’t want a soupy chili at all, but enough liquid to cook everything together.
  4. Bring mix to a boil and allow to cook and thicken. When nearly done, add chicken and mix in, heating through to finish. Remove chili from heat.
  5. In a small pot, heat water and salt over medium high heat; it doesn’t need to be boiling. Stir in cornmeal and continue whisking while it incorporates the water and thickens, which should take about 5 minutes. When thick, add butter and mix in to melt. Remove from heat.
  6. In a deep round glass dish, pour all of the chili. Oh man. You just want to eat it now, don't you? Oh man. Now scoop the (essentially polenta) cornmeal mixture over the top of the chili, and spread into a single layer. Top with a sprinkling of black pepper.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until polenta has firmed up. Allow to cool briefly, and then scoop into bowls to serve.

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Reviews (44) Questions (0)


The I. December 19, 2017
I found the recipe to be on the bland side, and knowing I and my family prefer a good measure of flavor, I added extra of all the seasonings plus added in some Cholula hot sauce and other salsa to the base mixture. I also added 3 oz of white goat cheddar to the polenta. Delicious with the adjustments!
hillbillyGirl June 15, 2017
Call me crazy! I started with a corn and black bean salad- added the chicky, doubled the spices and added chipotle cheddar cheese on top of the polenta. All in my lodge black iron skillet. Awesomeness for a weeknight meal!
JanieMac January 27, 2017
btglenn I can imagine that thigh meat would be better, the flavour is always more 'chickeny' anyway. Pinto beans sound good too.
btglenn January 27, 2017
I use chicken thighs which take longer cooking without toughening up the way breasts do when cooked to long. Also,use frozen corn preferably not sweet, and pinto beans. I sauté the onion first along with a chopped pasilla chile, then add the chicken and the spices for browning. It is not necessary to remove the chicken at this time. I drain the tomatoes before adding it along with the other ingredients to the pot and let it cook for a few minutes -- then add the tomato juice and broth as needed for a good consistency. I make more polenta than the recipe calls for because my preference is for a bottom polenta layer along with the topping. I sometimes add thawed frozen corn to the hot polenta for additional texture , mixing it in along with salt and pepper to taste.
JanePrez January 24, 2017
I've made this and love it. Cheese instead of polenta sounds like a great idea. I've subbed mash potatoes for the polenta.