Pastel de choclo

Serves 4-6.

Chile’s national dish, pastel de choclo is a fusion of the cuisines of the Spanish conquistadors and the indigenous Mapuche Indian population. Its tasty beef and onion filling, topped with a creamy corn puree, is both sweet and savory.

3 cups finely chopped onion
1 ½ pounds ground beef
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
salt to taste
black pepper
corn oil
2 tsp. sweet paprika
¼ cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, then drained.
12 black olives, pitted
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

11 cups, fresh or frozen corn kernels
¾ cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 basil leaves,           julienned
salt to taste
black pepper
1-2 tablespoons cane sugar

For filling, heat corn oil in a skillet, add onions and cook until translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add ground beef, garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper to taste. Sauté, stirring until the meat and onions release their juices, about 10 minutes. Add paprika, then cook 1 minute longer and set aside.

For topping, in a blender or food processor, puree the corn kernels with milk in batches. Cook butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add corn puree, salt and black pepper. While stirring the mixture, add lightly beaten egg and julienned basil. Reduce heat to low, and stir until thickened. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Butter one large gratin dish (or 6 2-cup earthenware dishes).  Spoon the filling into the dish(es). Arrange raisins, olives and eggs on top. Cover with the corn topping. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake for 35 minutes or until topping is lightly caramelized. Serve hot.

Recipe courtesy of Art Palombo.

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