Serves 6 to 8

Tamale pie is a holdover from America's first flush of romance with Mexican cuisine. The love affair hasn't let up -- not with the lure of cornbread, cheese and chili, even when made with turkey.


  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 serrano chili, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground dark turkey meat
  • 1 can (14 ounces) plum tomatoes, undrained, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 pimiento-stuffed green olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, halved, pitted and diced
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped, or 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • Crisp lettuce leaves


Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Whisking constantly, add the cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, switching to a wooden spoon when the cornmeal becomes too thick to whisk. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter, cover and keep warm over low heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, chili and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is light gold and the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the turkey, and cook, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and juices, stock, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture resembles chili, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olives, and season with salt and pepper.

Spread 1 1/2 cups cornmeal into the bottom of the prepared dish with a wet spatula. Spread the turkey mixture on top, then spread the remaining 2 1/2 cups cornmeal on top. Sprinkle with the Monterey Jack. Bake until golden brown and the cheese is melted, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes. Serve with avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, red onion and lettuce.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Martha Stewart Living. All rights reserved.

RecID 11441

Sign Up for Newsletters Here

Delicious recipes, easy meal ideas and holiday inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.