Here is our Individual Pinto and Black Bean Tamale Pies from Everyday Food Light. I'm no tamale expert having only one in my life, but after seeing how this is made and the way it tastes, it really is just a very simple way of getting the flavour of a tamale with a much easier execution. A layer of sliced polenta (from a tube) is placed in an oven-proof dish or ramekin and then filled with a mixture of pinto & black bean, tomatoes and seasoning. The topping was sharp cheddar (which is a substitution we've had to make recently in all Mexican dinners b/c all of our grocery stores have eliminated Monterey jack cheese from their shelves). Sharp cheddar is one cheese that tastes fantastic when it gets nice and golden on top.
As I was making this I felt like it wouldn't be flavourful enough and was tempted to add a little dried cumin. But I'm glad I followed the recipe exact because it really didn't need it. The only possible way to improve this was Nuno's suggestion to try it with our own oven baked polenta instead of the prepared tube. The flavour and texture would be improved. And, wow - this recipe made so many servings. We had this for two nights, one of which had an extra guest dining with us. This recipe was almost custom made for Owen's tastes so it goes without saying that he really enjoyed it - we all did. We will definitely make these again in the future.