Tag Archives: basil


I recently heard about this dish from one of my Chilean students and I immediately knew I had to try it. Corn? Basil? Pumpkin? Count me in.

Charquicán is a word that derives from the Quechua and Mapuche word, charqui, which means jerky. During Andean times, meat and fish would frequently spoil, so they would dry their meat in order to preserve it. The charquicán stew is traditionally made with dried meat and an array of South American vegetables (squash, potatoes, corn) and topped with a fried egg.

Over time, people began to substitute fresh beef (ground or shredded) for the jerky because of the jerky’s strong, sometimes abrasive taste. Which is exactly what I did.



1 white onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 or 2 lbs of lean beef (You can either use ground beef or thin filets)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 large chunk of pumpkin (called zapallo in Chile, but you can use squash if you like), cubed

2 cups of beef stock

1 hand full of fresh basil, roughly chopped

3 cups of fresh or frozen large kernel corn

1 tablespoon of paprika

1 tablespoon rosemary

3 tablespoon of cumin

3 tablespoons sea salt

pinch of black pepper

1 tablespoon of oregano

2 tablespoons of olive oil


Cut the beef into strips and simmer in 1/3 c caldo for 1 hour. Shred the beef and save the juices. (If you are using ground beef, skip this step)

Sauté the shredded beef (or ground beef) with the  onion, garlic, pumpkin, potatoes, spices, and salt and pepper in the olive oil in a large, deep pan. Once the beef is cooked and the vegetables nice and fragrant, add the beef stock and simmer until the pumpkin and potatoes are soft (about 20 or 30 minutes). One the potatoes are softening up, mash them up a little to give the stew some thickness, then add the corn and basil and stir. Let the stew simmer for about 10 more minutes until it is nice and thick. Taste for salt or  more spice.

Serve hot in a bowl with a fried egg on top.

Note: Feel free to add more, different vegetables (tomatoes, peas, green beans) and whatever spices feel right. You can’t go wrong with this homey, comforting dish.

This stew is lovely with a free green salad or ensalada chilena and a big glass of Chilean wine.

Another great idea would be to make this a vegetarian stew (use vegetable  or chicken stock and no meat) and serve with a nice juicy steak.



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Pastel de Choclo

Well. Looks like I’m still here. No rapture for me. BUT I did make sure I went out and partied it up, rapture style. Rapture sounds kinda like Raptor. What’s better….a raptor party or a rapture party?

Sorry about that. I get distracted easily..

So, my tooth has improved 100 percent. I still gotta get surgery next Friday, but it’s great to able to eat real things. To celebrate, I took a crack at making Pastel de Choclo.

This recipe was a little high maintenance. The ingredients were all easy to find, and not very expensive, but there were a lot of steps involved. I get the feeling this is the sort of thing you make if you already happen to have some of this stuff pre-made lying around, but who knows.

I blatantly stole this recipe off the Food Network website. I was surprised to find very few English recipes for this dish on most of the major websites. Seems Chilean food is unexplored territory for mainstream America on the whole. There’s probably good reason for that; Chilean food isn’t exactly….um…I dunno. Special. It’s delicious, there are unique flavors, and definitely some special dishes, but it still ain’t no Italian food.

However, I found this dish really satisfying. The combination of the savory, spicy chicken, briny olives, and sweet, fluffy corn is unique and distinctly Chilean. I adapted this recipe a bit according to my whim, and definitely would do a few things different next time. The recipe called for 5 cups of chicken stock, then never said when to add it??? Anyway, it all worked out.

Pastel de Choclo


1 bag (about 3-4 cups) of frozen corn (or fresh kernals)

2 chicken breasts, poached and shredded

1/4 cup of melted butter

1/4 cup of kalamata olives (pitted)

1/2 cup of raisins

3-4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

1 cup of milk

1 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon of oregano



1 teaspoon of sugar

a pinch of powdered sugar

fresh basil, chopped

olive oil


Start with poaching the chicken and making the hard boiled eggs. I’d actually recommend you do this the day before to save time if possible.

Before you start, set up all your ingredients, chopped, and ready to go. This will make it much more for too cook.

Heat up the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onions with the oregano, paprika, and cumin until translucent. Then add chicken and stir until savory. Once the mixture is nice and fragrant, add it to the bottom of a casserole dish, or if you have it, a round, heavy pan. The best would be a paila (an earthenware dish)  but beggars cant be choosers and a casserole dish is all I had.

Next, make the corn mixture. If you have fresh kernals, grate the corn with a grater. If you have frozen corn (like I did) use a food processor and grind the corn until it is like a corn paste. Next, melt the butter in a deep pan on medium high heat, and add the corn, salt, sugar, and milk. Stir the mixture until it is nice and thick. Add fresh basil.

[I had some issues with this step. My mixture just would not thicken. I finally had to add some flour to get it right….anyone know what happened? Do I need cornstarch?]

Now the fun part. Arranged sliced egg, olive, and raisins on the chicken, and then pour the corn mixture on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the top is nice and browned.

Serve hot.

I think this recipe would be fabulous served in individual pots with a nice ensalada chilena (tomatoes, onion, and vinegar) or a fresh green salad.

Pastel De Choclo

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Hearty Porotos Granados for Easter Sunday

Happy Easter Everyone!

I had a fantastic Easter with good friends and good food. We even dyed eggs and rolled them down the hill! This apparently is a Scottish/European tradition. Rolling eggs down a hill. So, we brought a few beers to the park with our  colorful dyed eggs and the races began. We got quite a few looks. Maybe that was the homemade bunny ears I made and wore…who knows.

Since  I had some time Saturday, I decided to make this yummy dish. Yes, I cook when I’m bored…don’t judge me. I mentioned this dish previously in one of my first posts. When I tried it at the restaurant I knew I had to make it myself. It’s a fairly simple dish, but it does take a little while to cook all the squash and beans. Worth the wait. The sweet, mushy pumpkin and light, white porotos beans makes for a filling, delicious stew for anytime of year. The dish is similar to Three Sister’s Stew, a dish my mom used to make at home all the time. It is authentically Chilean, using both Spanish and Chilean ingredients in a delicious fusion. The recipe below was adapted from I recipe I found on whats4eats.

Porotos Granados

1 cup white porotos beans, soaked and drained (an alternative could be white cannellini beans)

3 cups of squash or pumpkin, diced with the skin removed
(I used a big chunk of calabaza which is sold everywhere here in Chile. It’s really more like squash then pumpkin, but the calabaza itself is huge so they have to sell it in pieces

1 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)

3 cups of chicken stock (I used water and bouillon base)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 white potatoes, diced (optional)

1 carrot, diced (optional)

1 cup of frozen corn

chopped basil (as much as you can get your hands on)


    1. Heat the oil over medium flame in a large pot. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Stir in the garlic, paprika, cumin and oregano and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
    2. Add tomatoes and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add the stock, potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, beans, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is cooked through and soft.
    3. Take a fork and mash up the pumpkin, potatoes and carrots to thicken the broth. You can also use an emulsion blender if you like to get a thicker stew. Be careful not to mash up all the beans. You don’t want an orange paste.
    4. Stir in the corn and basil. Simmer another 5 minutes, adjust seasoning and serve with a nice chorizo sausage and some fluffy hunks of pan del día. This stew is  also excellent  served with a simple ensalada chilena (tomato, red onion, cilantro and oil and vinegar)
Pre-boiled stew


It was delicious with a little parmesan cheese on top. 

Porotos Granados

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup on a Lazy Sunday

Dear Readers,

I’m sorry to say I’ve been a disappointment this weekend. My PLAN was to go out Saturday night, maybe even go to Valpo to the beach, but it all fell apart because I could not even get out of bed yesterday. So, I didn’t. But, 12 hours of sleep later, I’m starting to feel a bit better. Maybe, in the future, when I’m not feeling well, I won’t go out til 3am and drink lots of beer. Maybe, just maybe, that didn’t help.

However, had I not gone out (and had a great time too) I would not have discovered the most delicious bar food ever. I’m not sure EXACTLY what it’s called (promise, I’ll get back to you). But it’s definitely some version of a Pobre. Anything a lo pobre means with french fries,  sauteed onions, and a fried egg. You could have lomo a lo pobre, bistec a lo pobre or even pollo a lo pobre. You can’t go wrong. I will definitely dedicate a post solely to this menu item…but for now all I can say is they brought out a huge plate of french fries with fried onions, sausage, beef and two fried eggs and I almost passed out from deliciousness overload and the amount of garbage in my tummy.

Well, it finally got to me. The grease, the beer, the allergies, and since Saturday morning I’ve been a sad mess. But, today, I was feeling a bit better and ventured out with my housemate Amanda to go to La Vega. That’s right…again. This time, to buy things! And oh boy did I buy things.

I think my total count looked like this:

a whole chicken (which I almost left there)

an eggplant

a red pepper






celery (tons)

carrots (tons)


pan del dia

and…some juice, soy sauce, rice, and chocolate for good measure.

Carrying groceries is hard work! I think by the time I leave, I’m gonna be ripped from hauling groceries all over the city. I finally got my loot home and started getting ready to make my first batch of homemade chicken noodle soup! That’s right, you heard me. My FIRST. I’ve never made it from a whole chicken. But, it was super easy. Took about two hours, but it was fantastic. No, there is nothing Chilean about chicken noodle soup (Chicklean?) but I’m gonna blog it anyway. I’m telling you, from scratch is the best! Don’t worry, it’s easy. You can put a chicken in a pot, right?

Grace’s Made From Scratch Sopa de Pollo

1 whole chicken (innards removed)

4 stalks on celery, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

1 whole  yellow onion, diced

4-12 cups of water

4 tablespoons oregano

2-4 tablespoons black pepper

4 tablespoons of salt

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup of parsley, chopped

1/4 basil, chopped

1/4 pack of spiral noodles(or whatever), cooked and drained


First, make the pasta! You know..follow the package. Then set the cooked pasta aside.

Put the whole chicken in a large pot (as big as you can get!) with half the carrots, half the celery, 2 tablespoons of oregano,  2 tablespoons of salt,  2 tablespoons of pepper and the garlic. Add water until the liquid reaches about an inch or so from the top. You want it full, but so it won’t bubble over when you boil it (Sorry, these directions are vague, and mostly just practical, but I wanted to make it easy for anybody). Get the water to a slow boil, and then leave it for at least an hour with the lid on. After about 40 minutes, turn the chicken over so it gets cooked on all sides. After about an hour and half, it should be totally cooked and the broth should have those delightful yellow oil spots creating a mouth-watering smell in your kitchen.

Pour the liquid through a strainer into another pot. Take the chicken and cut it into bite size pieces and then add back to the new pot of clear stock. Add the rest of the celery and carrots. Then, add the onion, the rest of the spices, the pasta, and some lemon juice and simmer for about 10 minutes until the  veggies are cooked, but not too soft. Finally, add the chopped parsley and basil, and taste for salt.

My oh my!

Boilin’ ma chicken


Doesn’t get much better than that..


Seriously, I already feel 1000000X better.

What’s your favorite homemade soup recipe?

Also, shout out to Andrea’s blog, Can You Stay for Dinner? where she did a post of a equally yummy looking chick’n’noodle.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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Sopa de Porotos and The Nutmeg Experiment

¡Buenos Tardes!

Today was a free day for me because my class got cancelled (cancelled early to, so no pay). Since work seems to be slow going, I figure its best to take advantage of the free time while I have it.

However, despite the free time, this last week has been kinda miserable because of my stinkin’ allergies! I’ve been sneezing for a while, but in the last few days, it has become like having a cold 24/7. I wake up in the morning feeling like a new loaf of bread…that is with a heavy crust over my face (gross).  I read online about these colares de nuez moscada which are essentially just nutmeg nuts on strings which you wear around your neck. Apparently, the nutmeg is supposed to help with allergies, especially with allergies to a tree called plátanos orientales. They have big leaves, like the Canadian maple tree, and love causing me misery. Unfortunately, my alternative medicine approach failed (sorry Mom!). I was sniffing that nut the whole day with no results (nut sniffing…yeah yeah…it’s funny). So, I had to pick up some meds, and was lucky to get some non-drowsy (no sueño) anti-histamine. It seems to be working more or less…hopefully I’ll feel better by tomorrow.

(Necklace pictured above)

This afternoon I met up with Titus for lunch in Bellas Artes and he recommended I try this bean stew called porotos, which is a Spanish white bean. I ordered porotos con longaniza (pork sausage) and it was delicious…I have to learn how to make this. The soup is made with pumpkin, basil, beans, and red pepper. It needed a little salt, but was very filling and hearty.

After lunch, we went to the Memory and Human Rights Museum an the Quinta Normal stop on the green line. It was very interesting, especially having taken a class on South American dictators at Mac. Guess school does pay off sometimes. It was a very pretty museum and I really enjoyed all the video and audio media combined with brightly colored visuals, letters, and memorabilia. I had no idea that they used such horrible means of torture during Pinochet’s dictatorship, like the electrocution methods….awful. It wasn’t the most uplifting visit, but it was inspiring to know they are trying to keep the memories of the victims en vivo.

On a lighter note, I’m excited to go to La Vega tomorrow, the big seafood market downtown and then go to the work party at Bridge. In the mean time, while my cooking continues to be lame, I did pick up some new fruits, including some tunas (prickly pears) and another fruit that is yellow and purple. More on Chilean fruit later.

A chopped up tuna. Lots of seeds….but the juice was good!

I am now failing into a deep, allergy induced coma and must leave more details for another post…




Porotos Granados


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