Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Chilean Pastel

Chile is stretched more than 2,670 miles down the coast of South America. You would think that it was massive based off of this, but it's widest part is only 217 miles wide, making it similar in square mileage to Turkey and Zambia. It's length yields to a vast array of terrain ranging from the copper rich desert in the north to southern forests, volcanoes, and waterways. The central part hosts the Andes mountains where the Quechua people who invented tonight's recipe reside.


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Pastel refers to many different types of dishes cooked in Latin countries. This pastel happens to be the national dish of Chile: Pastel de Choclo. Choclo means tender corn in the native Quechua language, and it is the staple ingredient of this yummy meal. Other additions are up to you. The meat is typically chicken or ground beef with boiled eggs, raisins, olives, or a combination of the three used as filling. I went down the chicken, raisin, and egg route with amazing results. A little broiling at the end lends to a crispy crust that is divine.

 

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Pastel de Choclo
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp oil
1 ½ onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth (reserved from cooking chicken)
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp sugar
½ cup milk
6 cups corn kernels (about 4 large cobs)
4 hardboiled eggs, crumbled up
¼ cup raisins
 
Put the chicken in a small crockpot and cover with water. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Once the chicken is done, shred it and set aside.
 
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat a pan over medium heat with the oil in it. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 8 minutes until the onion is translucent. Stir in the reserved chicken broth, shredded chicken, paprika, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Heat until boiling, and then remove your pan from the stove.
 
Put the corn kernels into a food processor along with the milk. Process until the kernels have been broken down into a chunky puree. Heat the mixture in a large pan over medium high heat until simmering. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 12 minutes, stirring often. Remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
 
Put the chicken mixture into the bottom of a baking pan. Scatter the raisins and eggs evenly over the top. Spread on the corn mixture evenly. Sprinkle the sugar over top. Bake for 40 minutes, broiling for an additional minute or two if you desire a browner top.
 
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I really liked Chile's Pastel de Choclo. You might think it is a bit strange to use sugar, corn, raisins, and chicken all in the same dish, but it came together well. My only complaint was the amount of time I had to wait smelling the delicious aromas coming from the oven before it was done.

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