Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party where each course is held at a different home. This month’s theme is different ways to utilize a traditional muffin pan hosted by Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. This is such a great and creative theme – thanks for picking it Liz! I decided to take two of my all time favorites – Sloppy Joes and Tamale Pie and do a mash up, then assemble and bake them in a muffin tin. These Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups are amazing. What a fun treat – and one your kids will love!
Traditional Sloppy Joes are fairly mildly flavored, perfect for picky eaters. But when I decided to merge this with the flavors of tamale pie, I added Mexican seasonings including chile powder and chipotle for a little more savory leaning and a touch of sweet heat. You can easily leave them out and go with the regular flavors and it will be just as good. You can also amp up the heat factor by adding chopped jalapenos or some hot sauce.
One of the tricks to getting moist and tender corn muffins is to give the cornmeal and flour blend time to fully absorb the liquids – this can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours or up to overnight if you want to start this a day ahead. The meat mixture can be made ahead and reheated also. This gives you the option to have most of the ingredients pre-made and you can pull dinner together really quickly.
These were baked to a lovely crispy exterior thanks to the USA pan I used. They transmit the heat so effectively that they bake almost like cast iron. The edges look a bit too dark, but that is actually the honey in the batter caramelizing on the outside. The muffin part has a lovely chew thanks to the sugars and the filling perfectly balances each bite into pure perfection. With the firmer exterior I was able to eat these with my hands which makes them even more fun for children and those of us who have never left our child-like natures behind! 🙂
The next time you decide to make Sloppy Joes, make a double batch and freeze the leftovers. Then the filling is ready whenever you want to make these fun individual serving tamale pies, giving you a delightful change of pace dinner or lunch in a snap!
You’ll love all the recipes from this incredibly talented team that put a really fun twist on mealtime! Be sure you check out all the links below the recipe.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When choosing the type of barbecue sauce you’ll be using for this dish, pick one that is less sweet. I made a mistake and selected a very sweet version and had to do a lot of tweaking of the seasonings to get mine closer to the flavors I was looking for.
If you want a smoother version of the corn muffin portion, you can replace up to half of the cornmeal with corn flour. Your muffins will have a more typical texture with less chewiness. Both ways are delicious.
Use a gluten-free flour blend while making the corn batter and be sure that the cornmeal you use is guaranteed gluten-free. I used Bob’s Red Mill brand of yellow cornmeal which is made and packaged in a dedicated gluten-free facility.
- Cornbread Batter
- 1-3/4 cups gluten-free flour blend
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal, such as Bob's Red Mill brand
- 2 cups buttermilk (low-fat is fine)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 tbsp) butter, softened
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
- Sloppy Joe Filling
- 1/2 to 2/3 lb low fat ground beef, crumbled (or a combo of beef & pork)
- 1/2 lg onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 carrot, trimmed, peeled and finely chopped or grated
- 1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded, finely diced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ancho chile powder or chile powder
- 1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder, optional
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup prepared chili sauce (such as gluten-free Heinz brand)
- 1/4 cup gluten-free BBQ sauce such as Stubb's brand, or your favorite
- Water, if needed
- Prepare the Corn Muffin Batter: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the gluten-free flour blend and cornmeal. Pour in the buttermilk, stirring until thoroughly moistened. Cover and let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours or up to overnight.
- Make the Beef Filling: While the corn muffin batter is resting, cook the meat filling. In a large skillet, cook the meat, onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper together over medium heat until meat is browned, stirring regularly and breaking up the meat into very small pieces. Drain off accumulated fat. Sprinkle with the seasonings, stirring to distribute. Stir in chili sauce and barbecue sauce. Once the beef is cooked through, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a low simmer to help blend the flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thick, thin with a little water. Keep warm over low heat.
- When Ready to Bake: Set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter 18 muffin cups thoroughly with softened butter. (Or you can use 6 jumbo muffin cups + 9 regular size muffins … 6 with filling, 3 plain.)
- Remove the soaked cornmeal mixture from the refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of your standing mixer. Add the butter, honey, egg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes to thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Add the corn kernels and stir just to evenly distribute them in the batter. This will be a very thin batter, but it will bake up a
- Use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop to add about 1 tablespoon of the cornmeal batter to 12 of the regular-size buttered muffin tins. Top with about 3 tbsp of the meat mixture, then add another 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal batter on top. (If you are using jumbo muffin tins, obviously the proportions will be larger.) Pour any remaining batter into the extra buttered muffin cups; you can serve them alongside the tamale cups.
- Bake the Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups: Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the tops with the shredded cheese, return to the oven and continue baking another 2 to 4 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
- Place the muffin tins on a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes. Then carefully transfer the muffins from the tins to cool for another 10 to 15 minutes on the rack. You need the muffins cool enough so they will not break apart when you serve them. It is fun to watch the surprise on your family's faces when they discover the surprise filling inside! Serve warm with salad (or slaw) and sliced tomatoes.
- Yield: about 6 servings (2 muffins each)
This recipe is part of our monthly progressive dinner party, #ProgressiveEats. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
Muffin Pan Madness Recipes
- Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups from The Heritage Cook
- Ham and Greens Corn Muffins from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Ham Mashed Potato Breakfast Cups from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Spicy Pepperoni Pinwheels from Pastry Chef Online
- Vegetarian Meatballs with Spicy Moroccan Sauce from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes from Spiceroots
- Pina Colada Cupcakes with Rum Buttercream Frosting from Creative Culinary
- Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Vanilla Pear Brioche Bread Pudding from The Redhead Baker
To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary for more information. We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we always need substitutes and often the subs transition to full-time. Join this fun and creative group!
Create a New Tradition Today!
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