Beef and Tomatillo Tamale Casserole with Arugula Salad and Lime Vinaigrette

  • Active Time 30m
  • Total Time 1h 45m

Serves 6

This Southwestern-influenced casserole is sometimes called tamale pie, but there is really nothing pie-like about it, and the corn base is closer to polenta and grits than tamales. Many people shy away from experimenting with tomatillos, which look like small green tomatoes (the two are not related), but they are wonderful in this recipe; in fact, this is a great recipe for anyone who hasn't used tomatillos before. The casserole can be made 1 or 2 days in advance before baking.


  • For Casserole:
  • 1 pound top sirloin steak, prime or choice grade, 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/4 pounds tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed, cored and quartered (about 8 large tomatillos)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cups frozen corn, thawed (or fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chili
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 2/3 cups yellow stoneground cornmeal
  • For Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For Salad:
  • 12 ounces arugula
  • 4 radishes, finely sliced
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 2 tomatoes, diced


TO PREPARE CASSEROLE: Season the beef with 1 tablespoon of the cumin, the salt and pepper, and rub the oil over the beef. Let sit for 30 minutes. Combine the Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses in a bowl and set aside. Puree the tomatillos, onion and garlic in a food processor for about 4 minutes; the texture should still be somewhat coarse. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and toast the corn for about 7 minutes or until browned, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat to low, add the pureed tomatillo mixture with the sugar and the remaining cumin, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the beans, chipotle chili, cilantro and 3/4 cup of the mixed cheeses. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

TO PREPARE BEEF: Heat a skillet and sear the beef over high heat for about 1 minute on each side, until browned. Remove and let cool; the beef will be quite rare. Slice the beef across the grain 1/4 inch thick, and then cut each slice into strips about 1 1/2 inches long.

TO ASSEMBLE: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Slowly add the cornmeal to the water, whisking constantly. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 4 minutes, until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the reserved cheeses. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and spread half of the cornmeal mixture over the bottom. Spread the vegetable filling over the cornmeal. Lay out the strips of sirloin over the vegetables. Spread the remaining cornmeal mixture over the top, to within 1 inch of the edge (leaving a 1-inch border of vegetables). Sprinkle the remaining cheese around the edge of the pan. Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes, or until the surface is golden and the casserole is bubbling.

TO PREPARE VINAIGRETTE AND SALAD: While the casserole is baking, prepare the salad dressing. Combine the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, lime zest and cilantro in a small bowl. Whisk in both oils and season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine the arugula, radishes, carrots and tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Add half the vinaigrette and toss to combine thoroughly. Add more vinaigrette as necessary or serve on the side.

Tip: Although we have used top sirloin, any leftover cooked beef can be sliced or shredded and added. Cooked ground beef or even pork or chicken can be substituted. Add leftover cooked vegetables (especially grilled or roasted). To add a completely different flavor, substitute eggplant for the tomatillo. WINE RECOMMENDATION: A light red wine from Spain or a California Gamay Beaujolais will match the tangy flavors of this dish.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Harper Collins. All rights reserved.

RecID 5339

nutrition information per serving

658 calories; 26g total fat; 83mg cholesterol; 914mg sodium; 73g carbohydrates; 13g fiber; 39g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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