Wednesday, February 23, 2011

1943 Vintage Joy of Cooking Chicken Tamale Pie~Update

Let me tell you a little bit about how I came across this recipe.

This is a first time fix for me.

Here it is the end of February and all I can think about is how I have not cooked anything this month from my vintage 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking.

If you have been reading my blog then you know that one of my 2011 goals is to cook from my 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking.

So I started thinking about the chicken I had in the fridge and a casserole type dish.

So I go to my 1943 Joy of Cooking and thumb through the index, the first thing for Chicken is a la King.

Not exactly what I am looking for (don't ask me what "exactly" I am looking for, I don't know, it just has to speak to me, cook me)

Across the page from Chicken a La King is Chicken Tamale Pie. Sounds delish! Not what I expected a tamale recipe to be though, I must confess I am a tamale virgin. I have never had a tamale, but after watching way too many  numerous cooking shows this is not the tamale I know, I expected for there to be corn husk involved.

Maybe that is why it is a tamale pie, I guess a tamale casserole if you want to consider it that.
(Yep, wikipedia confirmed my suspicions!)

Anyways, that is how my brain works when it comes to food!

So, let's get to the tasty part...Chicken Tamale Pie!

So, I must warn you though before we go further that I was happily cooking away, prepping my chicken, had it boiling, gathering all my other ingredients, and thought well I might as well get a start on the Corn-Meal mush so I flip back to pg. 108

and just about cry, here it is exactly 1 hr. away from dinner time and I read that this corn-meal mush has to steam for at least 1 hr.!!!! REALLY!!!

(my bad for a) waiting until the last minute, b) not ready through the entire recipe)

So, never fail I grab my 2006 edition of Joy of Cooking and it has CHICKEN TAMALE PIE UPDATED from 1943!!!


This is one reason among many I LOVE MY JOY OF COOKING COOKBOOKS! (NO they are not sponsoring me, paying me, reimbursing me, etc., etc.)

I just LOVE my Joy of Cooking Cookbooks.

So, now to the important part, the reason you are here:

Chicken Tamale Pie
adapted from Joy of Cooking 1943 & 2006 editions


Chicken Filling
1 ½ lb of chicken, shredded/chopped
3 C. salsa
½ C. pimiento stuffed green olives
1 T chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 C. (12 oz.) grated cheddar cheese

Corn Meal Filling
1 ⅓ C. water
1 C. chicken broth
⅓ C. vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
3 C. cornmeal, self rising
2 eggs
¼ c. hot water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, set aside.

Cook and shred 1 ½ lb of chicken.

*note I boiled 3 on the bone chicken breasts with rib meat, saved my chicken broth for my corn meal filling, and shred the chicken using two forks.

Put shredded chicken in a large, lightly oiled saucepan over medium heat.

Add 3 C. salsa, ½ C. olives, 1 T. chili powder, 1 T. ground cumin, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 min. Remove from heat.

Bring 1 ⅓ C. water and 1 C. of reserved chicken broth just to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Cover and remove from heat.

Whisk together 1 ½ tsp. salt and ⅓ C. vegetable oil.

Stir in 3 C. cornmeal, coating cornmeal with oil.

Add stock mixture to cornmeal mix and stir until incorporated. Let the batter stand for 5 min., then mix in 2 eggs.


Reserve 1 ½ c. of batter. Spread remaining batter in 13 x 9 inch greased pan evenly over bottom and up sides.

Spoon in chicken filling.

Cover with 3 C. grated cheddar.

(sorry forgot to take a pic of the layers with cheese: ENTER husband calling, daughters being, let's just say sisterly in a love/hate moment and climbing like they are preparing for a climb on Mt. Everest, and me looking at the clock counting down to dinner time, aka this tamale pie should have been in the oven 10 minutes ago!)

Add ¼ C. hot water to reserved batter and spread in a thin, even layer on top of cheese.

Bake until browned, ~ 40 minutes.

Let stand for 15 min. before cutting to set up.

This was delish, to say the least! 

It can be made ahead of time, which is always a plus in my book.

In case you are wondering the 1943 edition was, well, in my book completely different.
  • 1st you had to make a corn meal mush in a double boiler and let it steam for at least an hr. vs. just whipping up some cornmeal mix and eggs and letting it sit for 5 min. (ahhh... thank goodness for this lifesaving update)
  • the 1943 edition actually called for the cooked chicken and the updated version calls for ground chicken or turkey, I prefer the cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1943 calls for tomato sauce and corn, update salsa!! Can't go wrong there! (although I served corn on the side!)
  • seasonings were different as well, 1943:cayenne, basil or tarragon; 2006: chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon
So, it was an interesting kitchen adventure and I loved comparing the two recipes!

Both keepers, both melted together in my kitchen for delish Chicken Tamale Pie!

If you want to check out some more of my great vintage cooking adventures check out:

Hope you enjoy!

I am joining:

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

It's a Keeper.

Until Next Time,
Happy Cooking!




  1. This would be a big hit in my family. It sure fulfills all the necessary parameters. It is delish!

  2. New GFC follower from Welcome Wednesday, I'd love a follow back if you get the chance.

  3. Great recipe. I have to give this one a try for sure!

  4. I heart tamales and I know that I would adore this dish.

  5. Hi Lynn,
    I found your blog over at Kelly's Real Food Wednesdays. I adore old cook books! I received my first ever cook book, the Joy of Cooking when I was 22 and learning to cook. Ah...memories.

  6. Your enthusiasm for the Joy of Cooking recipe books is infectious, makes me want to go buy a copy straightaway.
    The 2006 updated recipes seems a lot quicker & easier that the original, glad you saved the day!

  7. That cookbook is a real treasure and so is the recipe. Your Chicken Tamale Pie looks delicious and I am going to try it very soon. Thank you so much for bringing it to Full Plate Thursday and please come back!

  8. I love tamales but have zero patience to make them..this looks like a great alternative to stuffing corn husks, quicker too! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  9. I love tamales! My mom always made them growing up, but they are a lot of work! I love the Joy of Cooking! It's an essential kitchen tool!
    New follower from Girl Creative bloghop!

  10. I think I have this 1943 edition! I got it at our church flea market a couple years ago and don't know that I've even made anything from it yet. So what recipe(s) would you recommend?

  11. Oh, my Lynn! I will have to get in touch with you, you need to go check and see if you have this gem!!! I am working my way through cooking things from this. I am still eyeing some of the cake recipes.

  12. Thank you for this recipe, it brings back some of my fondest childhood memories. Can't wait to make it!
    I am a new follower from Full Plate Thursday.
    Freebies Mom

  13. Hi there! Thanks for your sweet comment and following my blog, Our Pumpkin and Sweetpea! :-) Your blog is making me hungry! I love vintage things and how fun to have a vintage cookbook. I'll have to find one!

  14. I just bought my "The Joy of Cooking" 1943 edition at a garage sale for 1.00. I was shocked that the family sold it!!! Now it is mine. I have teased my friends to watch out for my new blog, book and movie "Martha & Irma". It's good to see that someone else loves this book. I've only owned mine for a little over 24 hours and I would rescue it if there were a fire. thanks! Martha