Bean Chili with Corn Cheddar Tamale Crust

RECIPE #387, DAY #564


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Black Bean Tamale Pie” from Stephanie O’Dea’s 365 Slow Cooker Suppers*

TIMING: 10 minutes, then 6 hours


TOOLS: A crock pot/slow cooker and a whisk

COOK TYPE: Crock pot/slow cooker

HEALTH: This is healthy, hearty eats. It also happens to be vegetarian, which makes it a health reprieve in most people’s meat-heavy weeks and also makes it more affordable. Beans. Cornmeal. Vegetables. And it uses more spice than fat to flavor.

img_0536EXPERIENCE: I am very particular about crock pot recipes. I find most of them to be one-note-of-radiant-heat-taste and a textural disaster. However, there are recipes that work. Like ribs (assuming you are okay without char. They still taste great). Or certain soups. And browning up front and stirring bits in later seem to be the keys to making it all work out.

Beans are a great option for the crock pot, and this shield of cornbread steaming on the top to serve as the “tamale” really works okay. Ours came out on the dry side, with too much bread to the stew, and also just a tad on the boring side. I have rectified all these issues… or at least I hope so.

img_0535NOTES: Don’t assume that extra time in the crock pot will be hunky dory. In many cases, it will not. Veggies and meat alike will turn to baby food and become gray and insipid.

You can use a peeled and diced sweet potato instead of the zucchini. If you want more spice, add diced fresh or pickled jalapenos to the stew.


  1. In the bottom of a crock pot, stir together 1 can black beans, 1 can refried black beans, 1 can red enchilada sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies, 2 diced poblano peppers, 1 diced onion, 1-2 halved and sliced zucchini, 2 pressed cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups corn, 1 cup grated sharp cheddar, 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup corn meal, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup melted butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt,  and 1/2 teaspoon paprika.
  3. Spread the cornmeal mixture over top of the stew. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.


Serve with a slaw made with cabbage, cilantro, lime, sliced radishes, and sliced jalapeno. A chilly Corona would also be a nice accompaniment.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: This is hard to use leftover, since it is basically your bread and stew in 1 pot. If you separate the 2, then store, you would have better luck. Just fan up the stew on the stove and crisp up the bread in the oven and serve it again with more accoutrements.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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