Recipe: Pork, Pumpkin, and Cornbread Casserole

Recipe: Pork, Pumpkin, and Cornbread Casserole

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Tami Weiser
Oct 18, 2016
(Image credit: Christine Han)

A few weeks ago, I needed to make a hearty meal for a six hungry folks in less than 45 minutes. When I opened the refrigerator, I saw a bunch of odds and ends of other meals and a few leftovers from other dishes. I didn't have enough leftovers of anything to reheat and eat or serve, so I need to put things together to create something new.

After plundering though my kitchen and tracking down some poblano peppers, eggs, and ground pork left over from a meatloaf recipe — I was getting closer to dinner. I discovered corn muffins left over in the bread drawer and finally turned to my pantry for a final ingredient or two. I looked right at canned pumpkin — aha! Pumpkin is used in Mexican cuisine — and suddenly a Tex-Mex leftover casserole, with a spiced ground pork and pumpkin layer and a crispy cornbread topping, was born out of what I had on hand.

Make Pumpkin a Pantry Staple

When fall rolls around, I have pumpkin on the brain. Other than a few soup dishes, most folks tend to relegate pumpkin to sweet treats and desserts, but there's no reason to. It does hold up well to brown sugar and warm spices, but it's really quite savory on its own, and works well with meats of all sorts. Here it's a way to stretch the meat in the casserole so it serves eight. Pumpkin also marries well with cumin and peppers, which is why you'll find those ingredients in this recipe as well.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Pork, Pumpkin, and Cornbread Casserole

Serves 8

For the filling:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground pork or beef
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
7 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)

For the egg layer:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small poblano peppers, or 1 jalapeño pepper (stems, ribs, and seeds discarded), minced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped, divided
Leaves of 2 sprigs fresh oregano or epazote, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs

For the topping:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 corn muffins or cornbread, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2/3 cup shelled, salted, roasted pumpkin seeds

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F.

Make the filling: Heat the oil in a 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until the meat is cooked through and browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the meat to a medium bowl; set aside.

Add the onions to the same pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and browned on the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Add the pumpkin and mix well. Transfer the pumpkin and onion mixture to the bowl with the meat and stir to combine.

Make the egg layer: Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the oil and, with the wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the poblanos or jalapeño, cilantro, oregano or epazote, salt, and pepper and mix to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and pour them into the pan. Do not stir and allow to cook until the bottom sets, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Scoop the meat mixture on top of the egg. Gently smooth it out into an even layer. Remove the pan from the heat.

Make the topping: Combine the butter, chili powder, and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 10-second blasts until the butter is melted; stir to combine and set aside.

Scatter the cornbread or corn muffin pieces evenly over the meat, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds, and drizzle with the melted chili butter.

Bake until the casserole is hot, the eggs are set, and the corn muffin topping is crisp and browned, 15 to 17 minutes.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
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