Friday, October 28, 2011

Retro-Fitted '50s Tamale Pie


I'm not generally a lover of most casseroles, but this one is a '50s nostalgia trip. Every time my husband has it, he comments that he's always surprised that he actually likes it. Sophisticated, it's not, but it is good comfort food.

The recipe came from a Frito Corn Chips bag, circa 1953 or thereabouts. It was one of my mom's quick suppers that was super quick and easy to make. The original called for a 29-cent bag of Fritos, and when I first started making it I had no idea how many chips that was, so I simply put a generous layer of tortilla chips on a casserole dish that's about 9"x13". These days, my favorite chips are from Atlanta's Willie's Mexican Grill, so I use theirs which I deem superior to the supermarket varieties. The original also calls for a can of chile, but these days I simply use a container of my homemade vegetarian chile that I've frozen -- about 16 ounces. And, the old version may have called for American or cheddar cheese; I use a mix of sharp cheddar and jalapeno jack. Measurements really aren't that important with this no-brainer of a dish that I fall back on when I don't feel like really cooking.

Retro-Fitted '50s Tamale Pie

corn tortilla chips, enough to absorb most of the chile
12-ounce can chile with or without meat (or equivalent homemade chile)
8-ounce can tomato sauce
medium onion, chopped
green pepper, chopped
about 3/4 cup ripe olives, roughly chopped
grated cheese, about 1/2 cup each sharp cheddar and pepperjack
Spread chips in an oiled (for easy cleanup) casserole dish. Heat chile and tomato sauce together until they're simmering and spread over the chips. Top with onion, pepper, and olives. Bake at 350 for 15 minues or until bubbly, then top with cheeses and bake another 5 minute.

It couldn't be easier.

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