Is Chilli from Mexico or the USA?
You’d be forgiven for thinking Chili is Mexican, but it actually originates from Texas, USA. However, Texas was under the control of Mexico until independence was won in 1836, so it is little wonder that there is a Mexican influence in Texan food.
It was actually the Texas cowboys – oooh I love cowboys! – who invented spicy beef chilli. They would pound beef fat and dried beef with chili peppers and salt to create long lasting food to eat while on the trail. They would also plant herbs, chiles and onions while on their way out on the trail, harvesting their crops on the way home to make “Trail Drive Chilli” – who would’ve thought it?!
It’s heavenly to tuck into a big steaming bowl of spicy beef chilli on a snowy spring day – what is going on with this weather?! So in honour of those clever Texan cowboys and in a bid to stay warm during a rather rotten Spring, I have created this Cornbread Topped Texan Cowboy Pie Recipe. I admit it’s a bit of a mouthful, but I couldn’t condense the title down without losing some of the meaning and I definitely didn’t want to lose my cowboy!
This dish is my twisted version of a British Shepherd’s Pie, but with a flavour injection from the American South. A spicy beef chilli makes the meaty filling, while crumbly golden cornbread replaces the standard mashed potato topping.
Before we get started on the recipe, I’d like to my struggles as a food blogger. Cornbread Topped Texan Cowboy Pie is delicious with a capital “D”. However, this dish presented quite a photo challenge when it came to capturing its awesome tastiness on camera. Having made a large skillet-ful, trying to present an individual portion on the plate in a pleasing manner was anything but easy. I could only take school dinner-like servings of gloop (see photo) – EPIC FAIL!
Thankfully, my second attempt making individual portions in mini Le Creuset Dishes made for a much more appetising shoot. NOTE TO SELF: find a course on food photography quick smart!
So back to the task in hand. First, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Now lightly grease a 3qt high-sided skillet or oven proof dish with oil – bonus. Place the ground beef and the onion in the skillet and sauté over a medium-high heat until the beef is browned and the onion translucent, approximately 10 minutes.
Add the beans, sweetcorn, tomato sauce, chicken broth, chiles, garlic, chilli powder, chilli flakes, and the salt and pepper to the skillet. Simmer for another 15 minutes, then set the skillet aside.
NOTE: this meal is served straight from the oven to the table, which means less washing up. However, due to my photography blunders, you’ll see that I used a conventional saucepan to make my chilli and then transferred it into my individual dishes for cooking and serving.
To make the cornbread topping, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and oil. Whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture, until everything is combined.
NOTE: the consistency will not be completely smooth and will still be a little “lumpy”.
Spread the cornbread topping over the beef chilli. Some of it may sink a little, but it will rise back to the top while cooking – I promise!
Place your pie in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cornbread topping is cooked and golden brown.
While making this dish, I used my favourite Tovolo Flex-Core™ Spatulas. Unlike regular silicone spatulas, these have an added nylon core within the silicone head, creating a spatula that is rigid enough to tackle heavy mixing jobs, yet remains flexible on the edges for a perfect scrape.
The Tovolo Flex-Core™ range is available to buy from the Arugula & Rocket Cook Shop. I currently sell the spatula, as well as a handy slim-line blender spatula that will reach right into the bottom of your blender. Both are available with either a stainless steel or removable wood handle – you should never put wood in a dishwasher as it will cause the wood to dry and crack. All spatulas are offered in Candy Apple Red, Charcoal Grey or Spring Green.
Apologies! These spatulas have proven extremely popular and I simply can’t keep them in stock! If we don’t have the item you want right now, please come back and take a look online in a couple of weeks – more stock will arrive soon! Alternatively, if you’d like me to contact you when an item is back in stock, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Cornbread Topped Texan Cowboy Pie
1lb Ground (Minced) Beef
1 Medium Onion, Finely Chopped
1 Cup Canned Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
1 Cup Canned Sweetcorn, Rinsed and Drained
1 Cup Tomato Sauce
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Can (4oz) Diced Green Chiles
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
3 Tbsp Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Red Chilli Flakes
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Black Pepper
¾ Cup Cornmeal
1 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1½ Tsp Baking Powder
1⁄3 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Tsp Salt
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Lightly grease a 3qt deep skillet or casserole dish with oil.
Sauté the beef and onion over a medium-high heat until the meat is browned and the onion is translucent, approximately 10 minutes.
Add the beans, sweetcorn, tomato sauce, broth, chiles, garlic, chilli powder, chilli flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg, milk and oil, until combined.
Whisk the dry mixture into the wet mixture until combined – the batter will still be a little lumpy.
Spread the cornbread mixture over the chilli – it may disappear into the meat mixture but will rise again during baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cornbread is golden brown.