Catch up post number four! We were excited to have made it out of our stretch of so many African countries! We also were determined to squeeze this into our schedule when we did, because our next country to cook was China, and we were about to go to China! More on that later.
So I found a lot of tasty looking food for Chile, but the reoccurring theme was a casserole called pastel de choclo, which is essentially a casserole of empanada filling topped with a sweet cornbread-ish topping. We made pebre salsa and sopaipillas (pumpkin sopaipillas!!!) for a side. The Pebre salsa could be eaten with the casserole or as a savory topping for the sopaipillas. The sopaipillas pasadas also involved an orange/cinnamon/clove/sugar syrup to serve them as a dessert.
Pastel de Choclo (recipe)
As I described above, this started with what is essentially empanada filling… very similar to what we made for Argentina. Ground beef, garlic, onion, paprika, cumin, oregano, etc. We went with some of the variations listed on this recipe that seemed to be standard in many of the recipes I looked at–adding chicken (we used part of a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken), hard boiled egg slices, and raisins.
This was topped with a cornbread type topping. All of the recipes I looked at were a little different, and some other bloggers mentioned that this part is VERY sweet using American corn, which is allegedly more sweet than the average Chilean corn. Since we were in the middle of Iowa sweet corn season, I obviously was going to make this recipe using fresh corn from the closest local farmer’s truck! I ended up making a spreadsheet converting all the different corn topping recipes into common units (some used ears of corn, some used volume of corn kernels, and some used weight of corn kernels) and found some kind of happy medium. According to my notes, I ended up using five ears of corn, three handfuls of cornmeal, and two splashes of milk. And there was some chopped basil from our garden in there too. Pretty scientific, I know.
After cooking, here’s what it looked like:
This was a nice and easy recipe. I think we used mostly produce from the garden, too. Just dice the fresh ingredients and mix it all together. The red wine vinegar made this a little different from other salsas I have made.
As I mentioned above, these are not your ordinary sopaipillas… they had pumpkin! I am a die hard, year round pumpkin lover. So this recipe was a must when I read about it.
I made the dough using shortening, flour, baking powder, etc. and pureed pumpkin (from our garden!). These were rolled into small circles than fried in an inch or two of oil. They were done when the started to puff up and float.
We also made the sauce, which was sugar cooked in water for a looong time with orange rind, cloves, and a cinnamon stick. Yum.
I don’t think it got as thick as it was supposed to be, so we ended up letting it boil more after dinner.
The final meal:
This was another smashing success!!! We absolutely loved the pastel de choclo casserole. The corn topping was not too sweet as some warned it could be, and in fact it was just sweet enough to perfectly compliment the meat/filling. The pebre salsa was a great accompaniment, and it was also good as a savory topping for the sopaipillas. The sopaipillas and their sauce were delicious. They didn’t hold up as well through reheating, but they were still delicious. Definitely an all around winner, this was one of our favorite meals so far and earned the rare five star rating!