From stuffed shells to chicken pot pie, casseroles are comfort food at their best, often combining multiple iconic recipes into a convenient one-dish dinner. A taco bake, for example, blends the common flavors, textures, and ingredients of tacos, enchiladas, and chilaquiles in a lasagna-like, multi-layer format.
Typical taco bake recipes layer stewed ground beef with cheese, sour cream, and corn tortillas, achieving a wonderful savory balance between umami-rich beef, earthy corn, and creamy cheese. Tasting Table's easy cheesy taco bake uses crushed tortilla chips for a crisp contrast. However, for a heartier and more complex taco bake, replace tortillas with cornbread.
Cornbread has a corn-forward flavor with added richness from eggs and buttermilk, plus a characteristic sweetness that will complement the savory, zesty, and salty flavors of the other ingredients. As a blend of flour and yellow cornmeal, cornbread offers an almost cake-like crumb that's far more luxurious and absorbent than a thin corn tortilla.
You can use a boxed cornbread mix or a scratch-made recipe for more control over the sweetness and any additional fix-ins that would further enhance the flavors in a taco bake. You have two methods of execution for this hearty ingredient swap: You can either use cornbread batter to top the layered ingredients or you can bake the cornbread and layer the other ingredients over top before returning the casserole to the oven.
Read more: Tips You Need When Cooking With Ground Beef
Cornbread And Taco Bake Flavor Combinations And Tips
Both methods for making the cornbread swap take the same amount of time and have different advantages. Adding raw cornbread batter to the top of a taco bake makes for a savory cobbler where the bread holds its fluffiness and doesn't turn to mush under the weight of the ground beef's seasoned juices. You can also top the cornbread with even more shredded cheese to create a bubbly, cheesy outer crust.
Using the cornbread as a casserole foundation is a great way to repurpose leftover or stale cornbread. It'll also infuse bland store-bought cornbread with extra flavor. Plus, if you've ever dipped cornbread in chili or red beans and rice, you know how delicious broth-saturated cornbread crumb is.
Whichever method you choose, you can get creative with cornbread recipes. If you like a taco bake for its gluten-free appeal, then you can use a gluten-free cornbread recipe. Stirring in some corn kernels would provide a wonderful textural contrast to the crumb, as shown in this fresh cornbread recipe. To add more Mexican authenticity to your cornbread taco bake, try this green chile and tomatillo cornbread recipe.
Tortillas aren't the only swap you can make in a taco bake. If you're a vegetarian, you can swap picadillo for black bean chili. Another option is to turn the taco bake into a pastel Azteca by swapping cheddar cheese for Oaxaca and adding extra layers of roasted poblanos and sour cream.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.