Chili Casserole

I made this up years ago when I had not-enough of a bunch of things. It's basically an extrapolated tamale pie. I'm sorry this is so long. I promise it's not difficult.

  • 1 15-ounce can chili (2 cups homemade/leftover)
  • 1 pound ground meat, browned and drained (beef, turkey, whatever)
  • 1 15-ounce can beans, any kind, rinsed and drained (2 cups homemade/leftover)
  • 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained a little (2 cups fresh, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 15-ounce can kernel corn or hominy, drained (2 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • your favorite recipe of cornbread batter, or 1 package mix (I prefer unsweetened)
  • jalapeños to taste (I use 2-3 pickled slices, squeezed through a garlic press)
  • cheese, if you wish

Alternative: Rice, cooked
**You can substitute cooked rice (or any other grain, really) for some or all of the ground meat. One pound ground meat made two generous cups of crumbled meat after browning, so substitute accordingly.

1) This is a very forgiving recipe and you can make lots of substitutions. Also, if you don't have the proportions c alled for here, it doesn't matter. It's basically stew in casserole form: You can't really go wrong.
2) No chili? Add extra tomatoes and beans, and season with chili powder to taste.
3) No meat? Add more beans (and/or cooked rice/grain).

Prepare cornbread mix according to directions on package, or make up a batch of batter.

Combine all the other ingredients except for the cheese. Mix thoroughly and spread into a 9 x 13-inch pan. Top with cheese, if you like, and then cornbread batter. Bake according to cornbread directions (everything else is already cooked, so you only have to heat up the filling and bake the topping).

This can be frozen. It works best if you freeze the filling only and add the cornbread batter before baking. You can freeze it with the batter but the cornbread won't rise and you'll get a flat crust. It still tastes fine but the texture is less appealing.

Take it out of the freezer the night before (i.e. if you need it for Wednesday dinner, take it out to thaw on Tuesday night). I thaw on the counter instead of in the fridge since it's made of pre-cooked ingredients.

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