We adore this homey American classic, a Super Bowl party favorite. The casserole calls for sandwiching spiced ground beef and vegetables between layers of cornmeal crust.
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- 2¼ cups coarse cornmeal
- 2 Tbsp. bacon drippings or vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (2 cups)
- 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped (1½ cups)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1¼ lb. lean ground beef
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 2½-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside. In a medium pot, add 1 quart water and 2 teaspoons salt; bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal, whisking vigorously, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until thick, 8–10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Spoon half the cornmeal mixture into the prepared dish. Using the back of a wet spoon, spread out the cornmeal mixture until the bottom and sides of the dish are completely covered; set aside. Cover the remaining cornmeal mixture to keep warm; set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the drippings over medium. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook, stirring often, until softened, 7–8 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the beef, chili powder, and cumin; cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt; continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated, 6–8 minutes more.
Spoon the filling over the cornmeal mixture in the dish, then top with the remaining cornmeal mixture, spreading it out with the back of a wet spoon to cover. Bake until the top is crisp and sides are bubbling, 30–35 minutes.