Monday, February 2, 2015

"Betty Crocker's All-Time Favorites" - Fiesta Tamale Pie

Date I made this recipe:  January 26, 2015

Betty Crocker's All-Time Favorites by Betty Crocker
Published by:  Golden Press
© 1971; Third Printing 1972
Purchased at Hennepin County Library Used Book Sale
Recipe:  Fiesta Tamale Pie – p. 18

Welcome to the Battle of the Betty's!

In this corner, weighing in at a whopping 94 years of culinary experience, the one, the only, the author of "Big Red," the most beloved cookbook ever, Betty Crocker!  [Crowd goes wild].

And in this corner, the newcomer restaurant on the block, the "red-headed stepchild" of Psycho Suzi's, a "bitchin'" Minneapolis restaurant, Betty Danger's Country Club:  a country club on crack! [Crowd goes wild].

Last weekend, my husband and I girded our loins and tried out the new restaurant on the block, Betty Danger's Country Club:  a country club on crack. Betty's is the third restaurant opened by Leslie Bock in the up-and-coming Northeast (or Nordeast, as the natives call it) neighborhood of Minneapolis.  Just down the street is Leslie's first restaurant, the crazy-fun, tiki-centric Psycho Suzi's and Donny Dirk's Zombie Den.  All three of these restaurants can be visited by hopping on the – I love this – Tiki Tram!  Leslie is just a creative genius.

 Betty's, which just opened in late December, sports, among other things, a Ferris wheel (called, The Danger) on the corner of its lot.  Should you be so inclined (spring, summer and fall), you can dine in one of the cars as the wheel turns.  Lit up in country club colors of pink and green, the Ferris wheel is visible for miles, making your GPS temporarily obsolete.  That Betty—how thoughtful.

For the golf-minded, Betty's provides Betty Danger's Monetary Correction Golf Course, a "put-put" golf course located on the property.  And for the literary and library set, there's Betty Danger's Library dining room, filled to the rim with people reading eating and drinking themselves silly amongst books and horse and hound wallpaper that makes you feel like you should be the proud owner of an English estate...except you're not.   For now.

While all three restaurants serve up their own brand of theme food, Betty's gives us the flavors from the mythical village of "Mexampton" – country club food with a Mexican twist.

It is here where the Battle of the Betty begins. For lo, though I do like a bit of Mexican flavors here and there, Betty Danger's lived up to her name, giving me a painful case of heartburn.  And the thing is, nothing in and of itself was that hot, such that we had to gulp pitchers of beer, it was just that everything came with a pepper...or 12...causing a slow burn.

And so this kids, is what made momma reach out to her other Betty, Betty Crocker.  You cannot go wrong with a recipe by Betty C.  You cannot.  Betty C. doesn't make a lasagna with Pepper Jack Cheese.  Betty C. would find this unseemly.  Betty D. might do something so foolish as that, but Betty C. would never.

Betty C. would also never put jalapenos on a Sloppy Joe (Sloppy Wog) or in a pot pie or in a shrimp salad.  But of course, all bets are off when you live in Mexampton.  Mexamptonites apparently love peppers; "regular" (not that there is such a thing) Hamptonites probably do not.

And lest you think it was just me, my husband, who has a high tolerance for heat, was rather exasperated with the menu as well, particularly with whatever (hot) dip came with our basket of fries.  I honestly thought the man was going to throw down his napkin in disgust and make like a tree and leaf, but he stayed the course.

So when we got home, I started searching for a recipe that would soothe my soul and my ravaged esophagus and of course, Betty had the answer.  Betty's Fiesta Tamale Pie is so innocuous you could probably feed it to a newborn and it would go down, stay down. Betty C. only uses 2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder.  Betty C. does not use jalapenos.  Betty C. recommends you top this concoction with shredded American cheese.  That's practically Velveeta, people!  Betty C. does not believe in shredding our stomachs.  Betty C. is clearly looking out for us.  Betty D. is giving us a wild ride.

This cookbook – All-Time Favorites – is full of similar recipes sure to please and comfort and soothe and I don't think you can go wrong with anything here but I must say, it was rather hilarious to see the recipe for the Fiesta Tamale Pie.  Nothing against Betty D. because the food was good if not a little spicy, but an entire meal of that is just asking for it.  "Danger" is right!  I even started eyeballing my martini to see if that really was an olive in my drink or just another pepper in disguise.

So:  for an easy, no-spice meal, go with Betty C.  For a fun time in the city's new hotspot, go with Danger.  Betty Danger. 

Fiesta Tamale Pie – 6 to 8 servings
1 pound ground beef
¼ pound bulk pork sausage
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (16 ounces) tomatoes
1 can (16 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
20 to 24 pitted ripe olives
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup milk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup shredded American cheese

Heat oven to 350F.  In a large skillet, cook and stir ground beef, pork sausage, onion and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain off fat.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn, olives and seasonings and heat to boiling.

Pour into an ungreased baking dish, 8x8x2 or 11 ½ x 7 ½ x 1 ½ inches, or a 2-quart casserole.  Mix cornmeal, milk and eggs and pour over meat mixture.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown.

Note:  The meat mixture can be prepared ahead of time and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.

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