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Tamale Shepherd's Pie


"Isa Does It" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

I brought this to our autumn potluck in Portland.


For the mashed potato layer:
1130 g2 1/2 lbs unpeeled red potatoes, cut into big chunks (1 1/2 inches or so)
120 ml1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, at room temperature
30 ml2 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant teaspoon grated lime zest
4 ml3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

For the stew:
30 ml2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra)
1 onion, diced medium
1 poblano pepper, seeded, diced medium
4 cloves garlic, minced
230 g8 oz mushrooms, cut in half and sliced 1/4 inch thick or so
240 ml1 cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped
570 g1 1/4 lbs plum tomatoes (about 6), chopped
120 ml1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
59 ml1/4 cup dry red wine
4 ml3/4 teaspoon salt
5 ml1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 ml1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
57 g2 ounces tortilla chips (about 4 good-sized handfuls)
30 ml2 tablespoons lime juice
30 ml2 tablespoons Frank’s red hot hot sauce (plus extra for serving)
710 ml3 cups cooked black beans (2 15 oz cans rinsed and drained)

For the garnish:
Hot red chilis, fresh cilantro, and lime slices


Place potatoes in a pot and submerge in salted water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Drain potatoes and immediately transfer them back into the pot. It’s important to do this while everything is still hot. Give them a quick preliminary mash, then add the milk, olive oil, lime zest and salt. Mash until creamy, taste for salt, then cover and set aside.

To prepare the stew:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and pepper in olive oil and a pinch of salt, until peppers are softened, about 10 minutes. In the meantime prep all your other ingredients.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add mushrooms and cilantro and cook until the mushrooms have released a lot of moisture, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, wine, salt, cumin and red pepper flakes. Turn heat up and cover the pan, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes. The tomatoes should break down and become saucy (if corn was frozen it may take a bit longer.)

Now take the tortilla chips and crush them into fine crumbs with your hands. It’s ok if there are a few bigger pieces, but aim for crumbs. Add them to the stew and mix well. Since tortillas can be salty, wait until they’re added to taste for salt. Mix in the lime juice and hot sauce, then fold in the black beans and heat through. Now taste for salt and seasonings.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a deep 11×13 casserole (cooking spray works just fine). Transfer the stew to the casserole and even it out with a spatula. Add the potatoes in dollops, and spread it into an even layer.

Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned. Stick under the broiler for a minute or two just in case the browning isn’t happening. Serve hot garnished with cilantro, chili peppers and lime.


To get this done quickly, boil the potatoes first. Then begin the stew. Both components should come together within half an hour and then you just bake and wait. You can adjust the spice level to your liking by adjusting the hot sauce and red pepper flakes. As is, I’d say it’s a low-medium spicy. Don’t forget to preheat the oven right about when you add the tomatoes and corn to the stew, that way everything is ready to go.

I didn't add the garnish, and as I prefer milder dishes, I omitted the poblano pepper and Frank's RedHot sauce, but I brought along a bottle of hot sauce so that people could increase the spice level. Also, I substituted water for the dry red wine.