Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pastel de Choclo

This recipe hails from my friend Bethany who's husband is from Chile. It is basically a Shepherd's Pie made with a corn topping that is one of those dishes that changes from cook to cook. She makes it with either meat or textured vegetable protein. After last week's fiasco with the mole and attempting to make a vegan "meat"loaf last night, with equally disastrous results, I am making it sans faux "meat". You can use any vegetables you have on hand that will stand up to sauteeing and then baking. Like me, Bethany is throwing away the safety net and off to new beginnings. She is off to Chile with her husband and beautiful daughter. I am off to live in a trailer in Arkansas. It pays to have connections. And guts. And style. She has all three.

Pastel de Choclo

  • Assorted chopped vegetables for texture and flavor(I used zucchini, carrots, mushrooms and celery)

  • 2 large onions finely minced

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and paprika(Hungarian Hot preferred) to taste

  • sliced olives

Saute vegetables in olive oil until tender crisp, add spices and let sit for flavors to develop. Place into a 9" x 13" casserole dish and top with sliced olives. I added raisins.

  • 1 lb frozen corn

  • 2 shallots

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 sprigs finely minced basil, leaves only

  • 1-2 teaspoons corn starch

Saute shallots and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add corn which has been pulverized in a food processor. It is important to leave some kernels chopped and not pureed. Saute until 1/3 of the water has evaporated and then add cornstarch which has been dissolved in a bit of water. Let thicken, take off the heat and add basil. Spoon topping onto vegetable mixture, smooth out and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes until the topping is brown.

I researched a bunch of recipes and the ingredients and techniques vary. If you have access to fresh corn, you can grate it and then saute for a bit longer. In South America where the corn is not so sweet, superfine sugar is sprinkled on top which adds sweetness and crunch. Sliced hard boiled eggs are a frequent addition. Basil seems to be always used in the topping however. I did not have black olives so used green, added raisins and used herbs de provence instead of oregano because that is what I had on hand.

When I make this again, I think I will double the topping ingredients to make that layer thicker. I am also thinking I should have pulverized the corn a bit more for a more pudding like consistency. I have not had it before so have no point of reference. It is however quite delicious. I'll bring the leftovers to work tomorrow and see how it stands up to my friend Bethany's standard. Buena Suerte en Chile mi amiga! Abrazos!

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