If you've only ever made a tamale pie using ground beef, you're in for a treat. Pulled pork tamale pie is a bit quicker on the prep and so delicious. It definitely feels more "tamale-ish" to me, but perhaps that's because I simply adore traditional pulled pork tamales. Use leftover carnitas or your favorite pulled pork recipe to make this dish in just one hour.
Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x13” casserole dish with butter or cooking spray.
Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and bell pepper and toss to coat in the fat. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 6 minutes.
Add the jalapenos (if using) and garlic. Saute and stir frequently until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the cornstarch, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Saute, stirring continuously, until the spices are very fragrant, 30-60 seconds.
Add the tomato paste and work into the vegetables. Then add the diced tomatoes, black beans, pork, and broth (or water). Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in the cheese.
While the filling simmers, prepare the cornbread batter. Melt the butter in a glass measuring cup and set aside to cool. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the honey and eggs to the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Add the butter mixture and milk to the dry ingredients, then stir until just barely combined.
Transfer the pork filling to the prepared casserole dish and smooth into an even layer. Use an ice cream scooper to dollop portions of the cornbread batter over the filling, then smooth into an even layer using a rubber spatula.
Transfer the casserole dish to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the casserole dish to the counter and rest for 5 minutes. Slice into squares and serve. Top with sour cream, cilantro, green onions, jalapenos, salsa, diced avocado, or your favorite toppings.
Use a 12" skillet to prepare the filling - a smaller skillet will overflow.
Work quickly after mixing the cornbread topping - it will thicken quickly and become more difficult to spread.
Make this a one-pan meal by preparing both the filling and baking the casserole in a 12" cast iron skillet. Place a baking sheet on a rack under the skillet to catch any filling that might drip over the sides