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Our tamale pie needed a major overhaul.

ONE OF THE TRICKS TO lightening up your favorite recipes, aside from simply reducing the fat, is to change the flavor as little as possible. This can be difficult, especially with recipes that need major overhauls to lower fat and calorie content.

Such was the case with our mucbil-pollo, the Yucatan tamale pie featured on page 104 of the May 1980 Sunset. With 1 1/3 cups of lard in the thick masa crust, the recipe weighed in at a whopping 1,300 calories per serving!

We eliminated the lard and put the crust on top of the filling instead of around it. The result, which is 75 percent learner, looks more like a cobbler than a tamale pie. But, by keeping the achiote condiment in the filling and the masa flour in the crust, the updated dish retains much of its authentic flavor.

Accompany the pie with a lean, refreshing salad of grapefruit segments and orange and apple slices, dressed to taste with lime juice, minced cilantro, and salt.

Lightened-up Yucatan

Tamale Pie

Buy the rust-hued achiote condiment in Hispanic markets, or use the substitute.

3 ounces achiote condiment or achiote substitute (recipe follows)

2 cups regular-strength chicken broth

2 tablespoons minced fresh or 1 teaspoon dried mint leaves

1/8 teaspoon anise seed

3 cups skinned and boned cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces

2 large (about 1 1/4 lb. total) onions, chopped

2 large (about 1 lb. total) tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water

Masa topping (recipe follows)

Cilantro (coriander) sprigs

In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan, combine the achiote condiment with 1/2 cup broth. With a heavy spoon, work into a smooth paste. Stir in remaining broth, mint, and anise. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes; stir often to prevent sticking. If made ahead, cool, cover, and chill up until next day.

Mix achiote sauce, chicken, onions, tomatoes, and cornstarch mixture. Spoon into a 2- to 3-quart deep casserole and spread into an even layer. Spoon dollops of masa topping over filling.

Bake on the bottom rack of a 400[degrees] oven until filling is bubbling in center and topping is well browned, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serves 6.

Per serving: 320 cal.; 26 g protein; 10 g fat (2.18 g sat.); 31 g carbo.; 214 mg sodium; 63 mg chol.

Per serving of original pie: 1,300 cal.; 39 g protein; 105 g fat (38 g sat.); 51 g carbo.; 976 mg sodium; 295 mg chol.

Achiote substitute. Mix together 3 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, 3 cloves garlic (minced), and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.

Masa topping. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup masa harina (dehydrated masa flour), 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Mix in 1 large egg white, 1 1/2 tablespoons salad oil, and 1/2 cup nonfat milk until just blended.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:lower-fat recipe
Date:Nov 1, 1991
Previous Article:November menus.
Next Article:Showpiece appetizers.

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