Shepherd’s Pie with Mexican Spices – Part 3

IMG_2438 (1024x822)Another variation on the Shepherd’s Pie theme.  I started this series with a old-fashioned Irish Cottage Pie, followed by one with Indian seasonings.  In my Internet travels, I have discovered this Mexican seasoned – Chicken Tamale Pie.   This recipe is fun because a cornmeal/polenta-type topping replaces the traditional potato. Although I followed most of the original instructions, I substituted ground chicken for cubed chicken breast and further adapted the recipe for this post.

A mix of warm traditional chili spices:  coriander, cumin and chili powders.IMG_1142 (2) (1024x790)The rest of the ingredients for the filling are pureed tomatoes (or passata), frozen corn kernels, chopped onion and garlic, 2 cans of beans (I used one black and one white navy) and one small can of chopped green chilis.IMG_2429 (1024x715)For the topping, all you need is cornmeal, salt, water and olive oil.IMG_2430 (1024x895)In a large saucepan, heat some olive oil and saute up the onion and garlic, then add the ground chicken until cooked through; next add the spices, beans, passata and chilies.  The filling should be moist but not too liquid-y, since it is the base of this pie.  Bring the filling to a boil and allow to thicken.  Take off the heat while you prepare the topping.IMG_2431 (1024x730)In a small pot, heat the water and salt over medium heat to almost boiling.  Stir in the cornmeal and whisk continuously while it thickens over the next few minutes.  When thickened and smooth, mix in the olive oil.IMG_2432 (1024x940)In a baking dish, pour in all the chili.  Spread the cornmeal mixture over the top.  I sprinkled a little chili powder and black pepper on the top and baked at 375 ° F for about 30 minutes.IMG_2433 (1024x624)Oh my goodness. The polenta cornmeal topping has firmed up and the filling is steaming hot.  Smells so good in my kitchen.  Scoop into bowls and enjoy with your family and friends.IMG_2436 (1024x676)

Mexican Shepherd's Pie

For the chili:

1 lb. ground chicken
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 can black beans (i used 1 can black beans and 1 can white navy beans), drained and rinsed
1 4-oz. can hot green chilies, with its liquid
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/2 jar passata or a 12 oz. can of diced tomatoes.

For the topping:

3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 cups water
1 tbsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a deep saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until soft.  Add ground chicken and continue to sauté until it is cooked through.
  3. Add coriander, cumin, and chili powders, beans, corn, chilies, and passata (or tomatoes).
  4. Bring mix to a boil and allow to cook and thicken. When done, remove chili from the heat.
  5. In a small pot, heat water and salt over medium heat to almost boiling. Stir in cornmeal and continuously whisk while it dissolves in the water and thickens, which should take about 5 minutes. When thick, mix in olive oil. Remove from heat.
  6. In a deep baking dish, pour all of the chili. Scoop the cornmeal mixture (it is essentially polenta now) over the top of the chili, and smooth out into a single layer. Top with a sprinkling of black pepper or chili pepper.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until topping has firmed up. Allow to cool briefly, and then scoop into bowls to serve.

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