Mushroom Tamale Pie With Lime Cornbread Crust

July 11, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

A while back, I’d made “too much” barbacoa with goat and oxtails. I say “too much,” because I purposely made way more than we needed for one meal so that I could use the leftovers to make a tamale pie the next day. As I was getting ready to start building my tamale pie, my partner came into the kitchen, asking if we might have something vegetarian for dinner as a little break from the meat-heavy dinner from the night before.

Needless to say, I ended up making two tamale pies that night.

First, I scoured the pantry and freezer, looking for anything I could combine to make a vegetarian version of what I was already making. When we first started dating, we used to make a lot of vegetarian chili, so this was something I knew I could toss together quickly and, luckily enough, we still keep all the pantry staples around for it, eight years later. (Well, not the same ones from eight years ago…) I grabbed canned beans and frozen corn, mushrooms from the fridge, and the jar of guajillo paste I’d used to make the barbacoa.

That last ingredient is important—guajillo chiles make an appearance in almost all of my versions of enchiladas, chili, barbacoa, and yes, tamale pie. When dried, they take on this fruity, earthy, complex pepper flavor that I absolutely love. So you can imagine my delight when I found a jar of guajillo paste in my local spice shop.

If you don't have access to guajillo chile paste, and just have the dried chiles on hand, you can make the paste yourself: Add 2 to 3 dried guajillos, seeds and stems removed, into a bowl of boiling water, then cover the mixture and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water, and puree in a blender or food processor until completely smooth, adding a splash or two of the reserved water as needed. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, discard any remaining solids, and you’re good to go.

The end result, for something I tossed together after having to pivot from my original plan, was pretty great. Enough so that I wrote down everything I did, and then refined it later for this recipe you see here. Now, this mushroom tamale pie is in our regular rotation. It’s rich and flavorful without being terribly heavy, sure to please meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The secret, besides the guajillo paste, is the mushrooms. Use a blend of conventional and wild mushrooms for a variety of textures. I used shiitakes, maitakes, creminis, and oyster mushrooms, but any kind will do. Then take your time with the mushrooms. Let them expel all that water and start to sear and brown. —Jarrett Melendez

What You'll Need
  • Filling
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms (oyster, shiitake, cremini, maitake, etc.), sliced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen and defrosted)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 jalapeños, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 cup guajillo chile paste
  • 1 (14 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 ounces shredded cheddar, pepper Jack, Monterey-Jack, or a blend
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Limey Cornbread Crust
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coarse-grind cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the water has been cooked out of the mushrooms and they start to turn golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the Dutch oven back over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the corn kernels and let cook, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes, until they start to turn brown in spots. Add the onions, bell pepper, and poblano pepper. Season with 1 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and just starting to turn brown on the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, jalapeños, cumin, Mexican oregano, ancho chile powder, and guajillo paste to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, making sure to scrape up any accumulated brown bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Return the mushrooms to the mix, along with the pinto beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the shredded cheese.
  4. While the filling simmers, make the cornbread topping. Heat oven to 425°F and lightly oil a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate, large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and milk. Add the zest and juice of both limes, then pour the melted butter in a steady stream while whisking until well combined. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour the mushroom filling into the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. The batter is quite thick, so avoid dumping it all on top and trying to spread it out. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to carefully dollop the top of the filling, then use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to gently spread into a smooth layer, completely covering the filling.
  6. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before spooning into bowls along with dollops of sour cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • MS_foto
  • Kim
  • cosmiccook

7 Reviews

Taylor S. March 12, 2023
This was AWESOME. I modified a few things based on what I had at home - I used chipotle in adobo instead of guajillo chile paste and I only used one type of mushroom. We ate this up in two days and the cornbread was such a tasty topping; I may make the cornbread by itself in the future.
MS_foto November 27, 2022
I made this for Friendsgiving and it was well-received by everyone at the table. It's comfort food and rich and hearty. My partner made the paste - don't skip that part as it's such a special and crucial part of the recipe! I did the rest, and doubled the recipe. FYI it took me at least an hour of prep with the chopping and mixing. I'll make it again for sure.
Kim October 8, 2021
Really love this recipe. I had to make the guajillo paste, I’m very glad the description had that detail! I only used one jalapeño, I added some extra beans, and I used regular chile powder. I also forgot to add in the cheese before baking (just had to put it on top), but it was such a delicious recipe anyway. That lime cornbread was amazing! I’ll definitely cook this again, even though it took me almost 4 hours to make (I guess I’m super slow),
cosmiccook July 11, 2021
This was wonderful! I made 1/2 batch. I used a Farmers Market buttermilk that produced a light and fluffy crust! Browned the butter, added a little cumin & coriander to the crust. Used black beans and added a roasted hatch chile to the mix. While I did the "wild" shroom mix, in the future I'll only use Portabellas instead.
cosmiccook June 7, 2021
I probably missed it, but what, when and where do you add the cheese?
cosmiccook June 7, 2021
Never mind! I see it at the end where I figured it goes. Making this later in week.
urwhatueat May 22, 2021
Interesting touch to add lime to cornbread. I just saw your review on the Baking Steel griddle. Will that evenly heat over 2 propane gas burners? I'm trying to think which diner would have been around when you were in high school. Duffy's came to mind but that was in Orland.