Tamale pie

This is actually a recipe from a recent photo shoot; it smelled so good while we were working, I've been meaning to make it ever since. Of course, my home version wasn't nearly as beautifully styled. This was a great way to use leftover meat from the whole chicken I roasted earlier in the week.

Tamale Pie
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 jalapeƱo, seeds removed and minced (I used a roasted poblano instead)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 15 oz. can black beans
2-3 cups shredded chicken
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
4 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
3 Tbsp. canola oil
Sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Warm the oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast iron (or other oven-proof) skillet. Add the onion, pepper, garlic and cumin, and cook until the vegetables soften and the garlic is fragrant, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the beans, cooked chicken and tomatoes, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

To make the topping, whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg and canola oil until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk gently until just combined. (Need a shortcut? Use a boxed mix like Jiffy.)

Stir the cheese and cilantro into the mixture in the skillet, and drop the cornbread batter across the top, smoothing with an offset spatula for an even crust. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes, until slightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.