Mexican Polenta Pie

Mexican Polenta Pie

So I didn’t even know it was the Superbowl yesterday. These things happen when you live… far away.

Do you think Beyonce likes Mexican Polenta Pie?

Mexican Polenta Pie

Speaking of people liking Mexican Polenta Pie, guess who else likes it? My neighbors.

Except I’m not actually sure if they like-it-like-it, considering that I have yet to meet a Mexican-food-loving Filipino. Adding to the weirdness is that I’ve been told that it’s culturally appropriate to offer things multiple times even if someone initially declines (here, you can have it, yes, take it, no really, yep, that’s cheese, it’s for you, seriously, yes, it’s, um, like, pork?), but in the end they took it with a smile and who knows what they ever even thought of it. Thank you, neighbors, for making me feel better about myself. Because if it were me, I’d think I was weird.

On the other hand, if it were the real me, I’d eat the whole thing.

Mexican Polenta Pie

This was the best winter weeknight meal ever, because it’s a combination of three of my all-time favorite recipes: Crockpot Carnitas and Crockpot Chalupas and Chicken Tamale Pie.

One thing real quick. Shredded pork is the best meat in the world.

Mexican Polenta Pie

The meat is just like the juicy, tender, perfectly-flavored crockpot carnitas, except it has the added texture of the pinto beans which is like the chalupas, and it’s all baked with a thick corn-gritzy cheesy polenta top layer, which is awesomely like an inverted chicken tamale pie. Whoa.

And even though it looks like I dumped a bucket of cheese on top, it’s actually barely even one cup.

Mexican Polenta Pie

Annnnd one more time, right in your face.

Mexican Polenta Pie

A few other things.

  1. I bought 4 red bell peppers to saute and add to the mix because I’m trying to eat, like, more vegetables and other healthy things? I try. All the time. But they’re still sitting in my fridge. Wups. Now taking recipe ideas for red bell peppers.
  2. Speaking of ideas, your ideas for polenta toppings on Facebook were lovely. Truly lovely. I just love how much you all just love food. You are phenomenal and I wish we could real-life cook together, but Facebook is almost the same, right?
  3. I ALSO love how you can make my most worst vegetable enemy, the mushroom, sound delicious. Sneaky, guys. Reeeal sneaky.
  4. Bjork’s parents are flying in to Cebu tonight! I feel a family vacation coming on and I’m pretty happy about it.

Mexican Polenta Pie

4.0 from 9 reviews
Mexican Polenta Pie
Serves: 12
  • 1 lb. pork butt or pork shoulder (a large semi-fatty cut of meat with no bones)
  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans, soaked
  • 12 oz. light beer + 12 oz. water (just refill the bottle)
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. jar salsa
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups polenta
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 14 oz. can corn, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste (be generous!)
  • shredded cheese, cilantro, and salsa for topping
  1. Place the pork, beans, beer, water, tomatoes, salsa, seasoning, and garlic in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. When pork is cooked through and beans are tender, shred the pork in the slow cooker with two forks.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a large non-stick pan; add a pinch of salt. Add polenta and cook over medium low heat. It will splatter, so be careful! After a while the polenta should stop bubbling - stir in the corn. Continue stirring every once in a while to prevent it from sticking all over the bottom. It will thicken as it cooks - cook for about 20-25 minutes for a soft polenta, adding more water if necessary and seasoning it with salt and pepper.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the meat and bean mixture in the bottom of a large pie, casserole, or baking dish and spread the polenta over the top. Cover with cheese (I used about a cup of shredded Mozzarella). Place under a broiler for a few minutes until cheese is melted.
This would also be great with some roasted bell peppers added to it or some chopped chipotle peppers! I couldn't even fit all the filling or polenta in the casserole dish that I used. It would easily fill a 9x13 or larger baking dish or two pie dishes.

Also, soaking the beans overnight will help ensure that they are fully cooked when the pork is ready.


This Mexican polenta pie is true comfort food! Made with pork and pinto beans in the crockpot and baked with polenta and cheese.
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  1. that looks great! it looks pretty much like our “Pastel de choclo” here in Chile, except that we use fresh mashed corn on top haha, anyways i’m thinking to try out your recipe! it looks delicious *drools*
    and if you still don’t know what to do with your red bell peppers…try to add them in a dip, or roasted and stuffed with whatever you want! 😀

  2. “I have yet to meet a Mexican-food-loving Filipino. ” WHAT? I feel like Mexican food is the most delicious of foods…

    This recipe sounds GREAT, especially the topping. I’m not a pork-eater, but I think it’d be great with maybe 2 kinds of beans or some MUSHROOMs in it :)

    • I know. My coworkers always give my Mexican leftover lunches a suspicious look. :) And mushrooms!? you really are a hidden fruits and veggies girl!

      • I am Filipina and I LOVE Mexican food! Bookmarked this recipe already and will be definitely making this. My husband loves shredded pork, my son loves pie and I recently discovered the joy of cooking with polenta so this is perfect meal for my family. :)

  3. So we are pretty much obsessed with your crockpot chalupas around here, and I have no doubt would happily face plant in this dish. YUM! Thanks Lindsay!

  4. I just made some pulled pork for the Superbowl and have lots left over. I think I’ll make some version of this……yum!

  5. This looks AWESOME!! And seriously, you really ARE starting to freak me out a bit – we have crock pot beans/ tostadas on the menu this week. Our brains have to be connected in some weird food way!

  6. Kathy Dehn says:

    I keep printing off your recipes so I can try them sometime (now I just have to make the time to try them!) They all look so yummy!!

    Enjoy your time with Larry and Vicki there. Can’t wait to hear all about the adventures you will enjoy together!!

  7. Oh my word… this looks ridiculously cheesey… loooove it!

  8. Yum! I’ve never made polenta but have been wanting to. I’ll have to check out everyone’s ideas on Facebook!

  9. I am not actually familiar with polenta but this looks awesome. I agree, pulled pork=the best. + baked cheese on top? Well thats just amazing.

    • It’s just a grain like cornmeal but thicker – it absorbs water and thickens as it cooks, sort of like risotto or oatmeal or rice. You can buy it precooked but it’s usually solid, and I like it soft better. I’m newly in love with it!

  10. This is practically bringing me to tears, it looks so perfect and tasty! Have an awesome time with the hubs and family!

  11. It’s official: I am in LOVE with this pie.

  12. This sounds delicious! Filipino food is actually pretty similar to Mexican food (lots of slow cooking, braised meats, flan, etc) – highly influenced by the Galleon trade between Manila and Mexico during the Spanish years :) And if you go to Manila, you’ll see that there are dozens of packed Mexican restaurants!

    • Really? I know of just ONE Mexican restaurant here in Cebu! People look so confused when I try to describe salsa and guacamole and things like that… and my students almost threw up just smelling cilantro. Ha! :) Maybe I need to plan a Mexican food pilgrimage to Manila!

  13. Oh my gosh, this looks delicious! I recently made shredded chicken in the crock pot for burritos and I couldn’t believe how good it was. I can’t wait to try carnitas! It’s making me hungry just looking at it.

  14. I could care less if Beyonce likes polenta pie, all I know is that I need to make this ASAP!!! looks damn delicious!

  15. This looks amazing! I grew up eating polenta topped with a simple spaghetti or marinara sauce.

    As for those red peppers…have you ever tried roasted them? SOOO good. Place peppers directly on grates of a BBQ or under broiler and roast until they are blackened/charred in spots. Then place em in plastic bag and continue to steam until cool enough to handle. Peel the skins, slice em up, drizzle with olive oil, salt and fresh garlic. Serve with slices of fresh Italian bread, or crackers.

    Or, made a stir fry with onions, red pepper and beef. I’m posting one this week. It was delish.

  16. Oh my—I could eat this right now!! And I haven’t made it to breakfast yet. :)
    Yum–I’ll try it this week!

    And thought of you today as I posted about my 13 year old son’s plans to visit Indonesia for the second summer on a surf/mission trip w/ Surfing the Nations. I know you’re not in Indo, but I still thought of you. :) He is beginning to fundraise by selling ocean photography that he has worked hard on. :)
    Maybe you can come by my site and see.
    Much Aloha for all you do!! Love your site and finally getting into your ebook!!!!

  17. This looks sooo yummy (as usual). I’ve always been a little creeped out/intimidated by polenta, but this makes it look not so daunting! I can’t wait to experiment with it.

    Oh and for a bell pepper recipe, my chicken fajitas have LOTS of bell peppers! They taste pretty amazing..AND they’re healthy!

  18. Your meal looks wonderful and I agree with you about pulled pork– best meat ever! Maybe there is some roasted red pepper hummus in your future with those peppers waiting to be used? Especially with company coming it would be nice to have an easy snack around. Have a great visit together!

  19. This looks scrumptious! I can’t wait to try it!

    Hmmm red pepper recipes. I’m sure you’ve had enough polenta for now, but I saw a Martha Stewart recipe for polenta-stuffed red peppers. It looks great. Maybe some blue cheese on top? mmm!

  20. So excited for all of you to spend some time together. Just for the record, we had chicken enchiladas for Super Bowl Sunday! Guess we kind of think alike!! Have fun!

  21. Just bought your book Lindsay and only hope to have as amazing pictures as yours someday! It’s really a great book – so we’ll written and easy to understand – thank you!!!

  22. That looks like the ultimate comfort food! I’ve only cooked with polenta a couple of times and this looks like the perfect recipe to experiment with!!

  23. Nice recipe. Wonderful clicks

  24. It looks like a perfect meal for winter! Never tried to make polenta at home yet, I must give it a go soon! For red bell peppers, I would make red bell pepper loaf. It is like a pizza topped with onion, red bell pepper, pepper paste, olive oil and sesame seeds. You can see the recipe on my blog:

  25. Oh my goodness – the boyfriend would flip when I make this for him! Well, so would I but let’s just say I’m making this for him, not so I can devour the entire thing myself!

  26. This recipe looks delish! I can’t wait to try it- it looks like the perfect gateway recipe into the wonderful world of polenta. I’ve always been intimidated to try it at home; you hear lots of things about how it can become rubbery, or you have to stir This looks simple and wonderful for winter!

    Oh, by the way, my husband is from Manila, and he would probably eat Mexican food 7 days a week if offered! Last time we were there, we did eat at a local Mexican place, and while it’s nothing like North American Mexican, it’s delish! And as another commenter pointed out, PI is heavily influenced by Spanish colonization. You’ll find lots of PI versions of things like tortas, flan, and paella.

    • Hi Annie! I was actually pleasantly surprised about how fast it cooked. Not nearly as intimidating as it looks/sounds, just some stirring and some strategic dodging of hot polenta splatters when it first starts to boil. That’s awesome that your husband likes Mexican food! I wish we had more Mexican places here in Cebu… or maybe what I’m really just wishing for is good ol’ American Tex-Mex. :)

  27. shredded pork is the best meat in the world! have fun with your family vacation!

  28. Oh WOW, this looks so good. Beer, Pork, Cheese and Beans, that equals=YUM!

  29. Just Pinned this. I can’t believe how delicious it looks and sounds! We love polenta, but I’ve never thought to use it like this…YUM! 😀

  30. Your polenta pie is right up my alley! I love shredded pork shoulder….so good. I’ve roasted poblano peppers and wrapped them around shredded pork, polenta and cheese. Maybe you could do that with your red peppers?

  31. This looks amazing! Do you have any suggestions for a possible beer substitute? I have Celiac and gluten free beer is kind of yucky…

  32. I just made this and it was delicious! I love all of your recipes!! I recently purchased your e-book and it helped me so much. I can’t wait to start practicing all I learned with my camera. Thank you so much!


  33. This looks incredibly good! I’m going to ‘vegetize’ this tonight!! :)

  34. Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is collecting links to posts about Mexican dishes and flavours. I do hope you link this one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links – there are a lot of good ones already. Have a great week.

  35. If you wanted to add a veggie too it, next time you could stuff your peppers in the same order you filled the dish. Just an idea! This looks PHENOMENAL! My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures!

  36. This looks so amazing!! I will add more cheese to it because we are a cheese loving family! :) but do you have an idea for something to add besides the corn? I like corn but not cooked with other items, same goes for my hubby. Any suggestions? I can’t wait to make this!

  37. Is there anything else I can use instead of the beer? I’m going through your recipes and notice a lot of the crock-pot recipes include beer.

  38. This looks amazing, I’m definitely trying it in the next few days! You just put the dry beans in with everything else, you don’t need to cook them at all first?

  39. My family loves Mexican food. So we’d love to be neighbors with you and Bjork. :)

  40. I wanted to love this recipe but the proportions were all off for me. The pork got lost in way too many beans, and I even used 1.5 lbs of pork butt. After 8 hours in the slow cooker, my beans still weren’t done! I scaled the polenta back to 1 cup which worked well, but it needed a fair amount of salt plus a tablespoon of butter. In the end, I have a ton of the meat/beans to freeze because it makes way more than I wanted to put in the baking dish.

    I love polenta, but there are better ways to serve it. It doesn’t stand out with this, all of the flavors just get mixed together.

    • I have been reading all of these comments just waiting for someone to say they actually made it and what they thought. My Husband would be the only one eating it so I have been nervous as I sit and make my meal plan for next week. I think I’ll pass on this but look for another recipe above for chalupas someone said was good.

    • I made this yesterday. The flavor was good, but there was a TON of liquid in my slow cooker. I used 2lbs of pork to try to soak up all the liquid, but I still had shredded pork soup. If I make this again I’m going to try omitting the added 12oz of water. It’s just not necessary, at least not for me.

      • Hi Rachel, thanks for the feedback. Did you have the dry beans in there as well? The water is really for the beans because I used dry beans. The meat hardly needs any liquid (as you can see)!

    • We made this tonight almost as written (except 1.5lb tenderloin & less 12oz water) and it was overly liquid with al dente beans (after soaking overnight). GREAT taste, but will increase size of crockpot, increase pork, reduce liquids and pre-cook beans in crock before starting pork next time. Canned tomatoes will not happen next time as salsa was plenty. Still super tasty and great leftovers! We did it in individual ramekins.

  41. Made this last week and it was so rediculously good! Even my 2 and 4 year olds gobbled it up and my husband made sure there was leftovers for his lunch the next day. Thanks for the great recipe!

  42. Oh, yumm! I’m a certified “grits” girl, but have never had polenta…can I use grits or is there really too much difference?

    Bell peppers…ok, you’ve probably already used them by now, but a really good side dish is confetti corn. It’s niblet corn with diced onions and bell peppers, with an Italian-like dressing. My trick is that I sauté the peppers and onions just slightly…until almost translucent (in butter only). This takes the strong “bite” out of them, and the onions, so that now you have a sweetness instead of the almost bitterness that can be there. I use two dressings mixed: Kraft Greek dressing with feta and the Kraft Italian that’s white and creamy…Tuscan something…I forgot and I’m out, so I can’t check the name. I also used sautéed bells (with other veg) in my meatloaf…gives a wonderful flavor!

  43. Danielle H says:

    Sadly I’m having the same experience with the uncooked beans. It would probably be wise to soak them in advance for people who are looking to prepare this recipe. I’m now 9+ hours into cooking and they are still not cooked through.

    First Pinch of Yum recipe fail. :(

    • Thanks for the comment Danielle. I didn’t soak mine for this, I promise, :) but I’ll add a note to the recipe. I now do soak beans ahead of time whenever I use uncooked ones, so it’s probably best to just recommend that.

      • Danielle H says:

        I put it back in to cook for most of the day today. Very delicious recipe once the beans were cooked :)

  44. I also tried this and had the same experience with the beans and liquid. Too much liquid in the slow cooker and my beans were not cooked after 12 hours of cooking on high even after soaking overnight. The broth was wonderful but I had to remove approximately 2 cups of it. It was like soup. It is now much better though after all that cooking my pork is a little dry. Still flavorful tho. I am cooking it now tonight with the polenta so will update after eating. I will omit the water next time or try it with canned beans. After all that cooking tho the meat and bean mixture does have a wonderful flavor. The polenta, in my opinion, can only make it tastier!

  45. i have no idea what polenta is but I love how delicious this looks and I’m gonna have to try it. :)

  46. What is polenta? Would that be cornmeal?

  47. Lisa Marie Scott says:

    This recipe looks delicious and I am planning to make it this week. One question for ya: I don’t eat pork so I was wondering if you suggest substituting chicken or beef with this recipe? Thanks a million!

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