Creamy cheddar cheese polenta takes the place of time laborious masa in these tamale bowls! Saucy ground turkey and sizzling onions and bell peppers are topped with fresh avocado, cotija cheese and cilantro for a tamale in a bowl!
Whether it’s Christmas time or not, I am a SUCKER for a homemade tamale.
And when I say homemade, what I really mean is someone-else’s-hands made them! I have not delved into to the tamales from scratch world and at this point in time, I feel they are better left to the experts.
Soft masa dough wrapped around tender, seasoned meat, wrapped in a corn husk and steamed to perfection. What’s not to love!?
Well, they take some time. Like, all day kind of time. Or days — if you’re like my sweet housekeeper who spends days at a time making tamales for friends and family around the holidays.
This recipe takes the best of tamale flavors (with a little bit of fajita flair!) and zaps the cooking time to just 30 minutes thanks to polenta!
WHAT IS POLENTA?
Polenta is a corn dish made from boiled corn meal, salt and typically added flavors. It can be served hot and creamy like in our recipe or can cook down and harden, making it easy to cut or fry, similar to cornbread!
Don’t be intimidated — polenta takes only two steps and one is boiling salted water! You’ll pour the corn meal in let it cook, stirring occasionally. Fold in cheddar cheese and you’re ready for bowl making!
Here’s how you’ll make these Ground Turkey Tamale Bowls:
- In a sauce pan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Season with salt, then stir in corn meal.
- Let cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally so no lumps form.
- Brown ground turkey (or chicken! or beef!) in a skillet.
- Mix in water, taco seasoning packet and 1/3 cup of your favorite salsa. Remove from pan and set onto plate.
- In the same pan, sauté peppers and onions with chili powder.
- When polenta has cooked, fold in grated cheddar cheese.
- Make bowls with polenta topped with ground turkey, bell peppers and onions and optional toppings!
I can’t wait to hear what you think! We scarfed our bowls down and I regret not making more for leftovers 🙂 Hope you enjoy!
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Ground Turkey Tamale Bowls
- 4 ½ cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 ½ cups corn grits , aka coarser ground corn meal
- ½ cup grated cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
- 1 lb. ground turkey, can sub ground chicken or ground beef
- 1 packet low sodium taco seasoning, I buy organic + gluten free
- ⅓ cup your favorite salsa
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- sliced avocado, cotija cheese crumbles, chopped cilantro, hot sauce
- In a medium saucepan, bring 4½ cups of water to a boil. Season with 1 tsp. salt, then pour in polenta, stirring as you pour. Turn heat to low.
- Let polenta cook on low for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally so no lumps form.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat then add ground turkey, breaking up with spoon. Cook until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- While meat cooks, remove top and seeds from bell pepper then slice into strips. Cut top of of onion, remove paper and slice into strips.
- Add 3/4 cup water, taco seasoning packet and salsa to meat. Bring to a boil then turn down to low and let cook for 5 minutes. Place contents from pan onto plate.
- In same pan, heat another 1 tbs. olive oil over medium heat, then add bell pepper and onion slices. Cook until softened and slightly charred, about 5-6 minutes.
- Once polenta has cooked and reached a porridge-like consistency, run off heat and fold in cheddar cheese.
- Divvy up the polenta into four bowls. Top with 1/4 of the seasoned turkey meat (and sauce!), 1/4 of the bell pepper and onions and desired toppings!