Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Pastel de Choclo

Pastel de Choclo (which translates as 'Corn Pie') is Chiles favourite home cooked meal (according to Chilean internet site www.terra.cl), beating Porotos Granados (more on that tomorrow) and Empanadas. If you've ever tried it, you'll know why. Pastel de Choclo is real comfort food, a sort of Chilean version of shepherds pie. A rich stew (traditionally made with beef or chicken, but here I'm using chickpeas & winter squash) topped with a creamy mashed sweetcorn, like a richer, softer textured version of Tamale bake (but even more delicious!) They've been eating it in Chile & Peru since the 1800's, and it's about damn time we got in on the action too.

Pastel de Choclo (serves 4)
500g winter squash (I like butternut or crown prince), peeled, deseeded & cut into 1cm-ish chunks
2 onions, finely chopped
1 carrot, sliced
2 tbs vegetable oil
500ml passata
400g (1 can) chickpeas
2 tbs raisins
handful of sliced green olives
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
salt & pepper

3 cups sweetcorn (thawed if frozen)
3 tbs cornflour
100ml milk (or non dairy milk to keep it vegan)
1 tsp basil
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. If you have a good sized cazuela, use it. If not, a deep ovenproof dish works fine too. You can also divide it into 4 individual dishes too.
Heat the oil in a large pan & fry the onion until translucent. Add the carrot & squash & cook for 5 minutes. Add the herbs, chickpeas, passata, olives, raisins & cook until the squash is tender. Season & pour into the baking dish.
To make the sweetcorn topping, put all the ingredients into a blender & pulse until you get a coarse mix that's somewhere between hummus & porridge. Spoon over the squash mixture, making sure to seal all the edges & bake for 45 minutes, or until the sweetcorn topping is golden & the tomato sauce bubbling up around the edges.

If you must serve it with something, fried plantains & green beans are happy companions.
Once you've tried it, experiment with different fillings! Mushrooms & beans in a mole sauce is pretty heavenly, as is seitan & pinto beans. A few chopped hard boiled eggs in there will go down well too.

Om nom nom!

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