California Fig Beef Chili Tamale Pie

Servings: 4 to 6

Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
By Robert Del Grande

Beef Chili

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 ounces California Dried Figs, stems removed and chopped, about 8 figs
  • 2 poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon canned chipotle, minced with adobo
  • 1, 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Corn Meal Topping

  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • ½ cup coarse corn meal
  • ½ cup masa harina
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For Serving

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Sliced fresh jalapeños
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Crumbled cotija cheese


  1. In a deep 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high.  Add the chopped onions, garlic, and figs.  Sauté until aromatic, about 2 minutes.  Add the chopped poblano peppers and sauté until lightly cooked, about 1 more minute.

  2. Add the ground beef and sauté until cooked, about 7 minutes.  Add the chile powder, minced chipotle chile, crushed canned tomatoes, and water.  Stir and simmer slowly, about 10 minutes.  The mixture will slowly acquire a deep rich color due to the figs.  If the chili becomes too thick, add a little additional water.  Season with the salt and pepper. Allow the chili to cool.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  4. For the corn meal topping, combine the water and salt and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in the coarse corn meal and the masa harina.  Reduce the heat and simmer while stirring until thickened but still creamy, about 6 minutes.  Stir in the butter. Spoon the corn meal topping over the top of the chili in the skillet.

  5. Bake the tamale pie for 20 to 30 minutes or until the dish is very hot. Top with tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, and cheese and serve.