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Here's a really quick side dish; it's great for breakfast, too.  It has all the flavor of a tamale but with less fuss.

Tamale in a Pot   (Tamal en Cazuela)

1 scant C. yellow corn grits (or coarse-ground yellow corn meal)  (Note #1)
4 cups water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup red sweet pepper, chopped
1/2 cup ripe tomato, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup leftover cooked ham, bacon or pork,  chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 hot pepper, seeded and minced (optional!), OR
       1/2 teaspoon salsa seasoning
     (Note #2)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground flax seed

Put water on to boil, preferably in a non-stick pan.  (Note #3)   Place chopped tomatoes on a paper towel to drain.

Place olive oil in a frying pan, preferably non-stick , over medium-high to high heat.   When hot, add onion, green and red bell pepper.  Sauté, stirring constantly, until veggies start to brown.  Lower heat to medium. 

Squeeze tomatoes nearly dry with paper towel.  Add to pan with the minced garlic, minced hot pepper or salsa seasoning and cumin, plus the meat, if you are using any.   Sauté, stirring, for about two minutes.  Don't allow garlic to brown; it gets bitter.   (This mixture is called a "sofrito")

As soon as water comes to a full boil, sift grits into it, stirring constantly.   When it returns to a boil, turn heat very low.   Add sautéed veggies.    Continue to stir occasionally.    This will be cooked in 5 minutes, but give it 15 on very low heat if you have the time.    Stir in the ground flax seed near the end of cooking.   You may add water if needed;  mixture should be about the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Serving suggestions:  serve plain, sprinkled with shredded low-fat or fat-free cheese, with a dab of reduced fat sour cream or a little butter, with ketchup or hot pepper sauces, or smothered in leftover reduced-fat gravy.   Leftover tamale re-heats great in the microwave.

Serves 6

Note #1:  Corn grits are easier to use, less likely to lump and I like the flavor better.  If you cannot purchase yellow grits locally, however, coarse ground yellow corn meal is acceptable.

Note #2:   A chopped jalapeno pepper, fresh or pickled, is great if you like hot stuff.   For those who are not aficionados of heat, don't go there.

Note #3:   A non-stickpan prevents you from having to stir the tamal non-stop.

The Sneaky Kitchen
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