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NATIONAL DISH OF CHILE: CHILEAN PASTEL DE CHOCLO

They incorporate Spanish, Italian, German and French influence thanks to thousands of immigrants who came to the country during the 19th century.


Choclo translates to “tender corn” or “corn pie.” Pastel de choclo is a corn pie that’s usually filled with pino.


The corn is very sweet. It’s mixed with garlic, onion, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and minced meat.


The dish resembles a casserole. It’s a popular dinner throughout Chile and available in most restaurants. Some Chilean recipes include chicken.


The dishes resemblance to shepherd’s pie can be explained by history.


When the Spanish troops arrived at Chile in the 1500s, they were forced to adapt their recipes with the most abundant food there — choclo, which is Spanish for corn.

The choclo caramelizes inside the oven to make a juicy pudding that covers the stuffing (aka Pino) underneath.


Every Chilean family might have its own version of the pino. The most famous one comprises ground beef, chicken, and onion.


To strengthen the contrast between sweet and savory notes, some families like to add raisins and olives.


Ingredients:

3 chopped, medium-sized onions

2 chopped garlic cloves

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 pound of ground beef

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper

3 cups of corn kernels

1 cup of whole milk

2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil

1/4 cup of butter

1 tablespoon of powdered sugar

1/2 cup of raisins

1/3 cup of chopped olives

3 hard-boiled eggs

2 pieces of chicken breasts


Directions:


For a truly authentic meal, use a terracotta dish. If you don’t have one, any glass casserole dish or a cast-iron skillet will do fine.


Prepare the Onion and Meat

Sauté 3 chopped onions with 2 chopped cloves of garlic in vegetable oil on medium-low heat.

Keep stirring until the onion turns soft and translucent.

Add 1 pound of ground beef to the skillet, and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of cumin, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper.

Keep stirring until the meat crumbles into small brown pieces.


Prepare the Chicken (Optional)

Roast or boil a couple of chicken breasts according to your preferences.

Since the dish already contains a handful of flavors, some people prefer to ditch the chicken altogether.


Boil Eggs and Preheat the Oven

As the beef cooks, start boiling 3 eggs to have them ready when it’s time to assemble the dish.

The traditional pastel de choclo uses hard-boiled eggs, but feel free to make them soft-boiled if you prefer.

Meanwhile, let your oven preheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


Prepare the Corn Topping

Using a food processor, blend 3 cups of corn kernels with 2 tablespoons of basil and 1/4 cup of whole milk; you can also use cream if you want to enjoy a denser dish.

Start pulsing the blender to get a creamy mix. You don’t want to completely eliminate the kernels’ texture, though. Aim for a granulated mix to enjoy the original taste.

In a large saucepan, add 1/4 cup of butter and let it melt on medium heat. Then, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and salt, and pour the blended corn mix.

Afterward, lower the heat to medium-low. Now add 3/4 cup of milk and let it simmer until it thickens. Don’t forget to keep stirring to get a consistently cooked topping.


Assemble the Dish

Grease your casserole dish (grass or terracotta) by smearing a small cube of butter. Now add the ground beef that you cooked earlier.

Layer 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/3 cup of olives, the boiled eggs, and the chicken breasts in whichever order you like.

Keep the chicken at the top layer to separate it from the beef with as many flavors as possible.

Spread the corn mixture over the top, making sure that it covers every bit of the stuffing.



Step 6: Baking

Place the layered casserole inside the preheated oven and let it bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

It’s ready when the corn topping forms a golden-brown crust.


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