Ground beef and vegetables are spiced with chili powder and cumin under a tender cornmeal crust in this casserole.
Yield: serves 6
Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
- 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.