Comida Latina, Dairy Free, Mains, Recipes

Classic Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato-Cornbread Crust

January 23, 2015

Winter is the effing worst.

If I have to spend another second putting on boots and stocking caps, and fitting tiny thumbs into even smaller mitten holes to only take it all off five minutes later and then five minutes after that put it all back on again I might experience my very own polar vortex.

I would like to now complain about the weather but it has been unseasonably warm so I don’t have much room to gripe about that. Suffice it to say, I cannot have the windows open or go outside without outerwear so if Mother Nature is trying to make up for those two weeks of negative bazillion-degree-temperatures we had not to long ago, you are not forgiven. I’ll be the first to admit I like a nice fluffy snow shower now and again but it is January which means for those of us who live along the Canadian border, there is still at least 4 more months of snow showering to go and I’m over it.

Classic Tamale Pie

Alas, I’m not all doom and gloom because there is one upside to winter and that’s cozy, comforting, everything-thrown-into-a-dish-and-baked-to-within-an-inch-of-it’s-life food. It’s called a casserole people or sometimes a hot dish or haute dish (if you fancy) and it’s what keeps me from losing my shit during the seven—count ’em—seven months of winter.

Classic Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato

Tamale Pie is one such dish. It has nothing to do with tamales or pie but plays a significant role in my winter sanity (along with red wine, hot baths, and bedtime, not necessarily in that order) because some nights you need to feel like you ate actual food for dinner.

Here’s some other stick-to-your-ribs food:


Classic Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato-Cornbread Crust {Dairy-Free}

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika or just plain paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Heat oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Place sweet potato on a foil-lined, oven-safe frying pan and poke it several times all over with a fork. Roast in the oven until very soft, about an hour. Let cool. Leave oven on.
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, both bell peppers, and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add garlic and cook a minute more.
  4. Add ground beef and brown, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add paprika, 2 teaspoons of salt, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Let spices toast as the meat finishes browning. Add tomatoes and cook a few minutes more, just until they start to break up. Transfer meat mixture to a 14-inch cast iron skillet or a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  5. Once sweet potato is cool, remove the skin and place in a medium bowl. Mash the sweet potato then stir in the soy milk, vinegar, oil, and egg and beat until smooth.
  6. In a separate large bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until well combined.
  7. Spread the batter over the meat mixture and bake until crust is cooked through and golden, about 20-25 minutes.

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