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Chili Tamale Bowls


  • 3 ancho chili peppers, seeds and stems removed

  • 1 quart chicken stock, divided

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 2 pounds ground pork

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin (a palmful)

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

  • 2 pinches cinnamon

  • A pinch of ground cloves

  • Salt and black pepper

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 1 cup lager beer

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 rounded tablespoon honey or agave syrup

  • 2 cups shredded Pepper Jack or other soft melting cheese

  • Suggested garnish: wedges of lime, fresh chopped cilantro, thinly sliced scallions


Place the ancho peppers in a pot and cover with about 2 1/2 cups stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer to the soften peppers, 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the pork and brown the meat, breaking it into small pieces. Season the meat with cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic to the meat and cook until tender, 5-6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, incorporate it and then add the beer to the pan.

Puree the stock and softened anchos, then stir into the chili. Reduce the heat under the chili to low.

Bring the remaining 1 1/2 cups of stock and milk to a boil, then whisk in the polenta and whisk for about 2-3 minutes to thicken. Stir in the butter and honey and season the polenta with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the polenta into individual bowls and form wells in the centers. Fill the polenta-lined bowls with chili and top with shredded cheese. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over top of the tamale bowls and garnish with scallions and cilantro, if desired.