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This month, we continue our focus on crockpots as excellent time-savers in the kitchen. And, after all, saving time in the kitchen during the week is what this column is all about!
To help illustrate the wide variety of ways in which a crockpot can be used, I'm including a recipe for Crockpot Tamale Pie. It's a simple recipe that bakes a cornbread crust around delightful fillings while you're away at work or running errands or otherwise going on with your day. All it takes is some quick preparation work in the morning and you'll have dinner by evening.
The recipe I've included here calls for a little less spice (e.g. mild sausage and chile pepper), but you can easily use spicier versions of both to suit your appetite. Also, the turkey sausage and venison stew meat make for a lower fat dish. However, any type of sausage and red stew meat will work well in this recipe.
Being a meal in itself, this pie really only asks for a tall glass of sun tea. However, if there are big eaters at your table, a simple salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, diced onions and peppers will likely satisfy most hungry eaters. So, pull out your crockpot and head south of the border tonight!
Crockpot Tamale Pie
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. dried cilantro
12 oz. mild turkey sausage
1 lb. venison stew meat, cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
1 mild green chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 c. corn, canned or frozen
1/4 c. sliced black olives
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stirring constantly, slowly add the cornmeal. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the cilantro. Using a spatula coated with cooking spray, spread the cornmeal mixture on the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of a crockpot.
In a large bowl, combine the sausage, stew meat, onion, celery, chile pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, corn, sliced olives and seasonings. Carefully spoon the mixture into the center of the cornmeal-lined pot. Cover the crockpot and cook on the LOW setting (#3 on some models) for 7 to 8 hours.
Yields: 6-8 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus slow-cooking time
Editor's Note: For more information about crockpots, how they work and some tips on how to use them, read the Product Focus on slow cookers in the May 1999 issue of Seasoned Cooking.