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Carnes al Disco


Well, I´ve been on a bit of a hiatus because there have been some changes in the last few months. The biggest being I am going to move to South Korea this August to teach English. Signed, sealed, delivered. It´s happening: contract, flight and all. Therefore, I´ve been dedicating my remaining time to being with friends and soaking up my last few months in Chile.

Last weekend, I went to Algorrobo with my housemates to do a little bonding. Unfortunately, the weather gods were not on our side and it was rainy and windy the whole time. At one point, the power went out too. So, we decided to make the best of the situation and started a fire, poured some wine, and started cooking.

One of my favorite aspects of Chilean cuisine is that the majority of the food and cooking is a social process. Whether it is a weekend asado or a long Sunday almuerzo, Chileans like to take their time and chat while the food slowly simmers. One of the best examples of this type of food is cooking in a disco which is similar to an Asian wok, except not concave. The legged, deep pan is put directly over the fire and the food cooks for hours to build flavor. Typically, Chileans will make this dish with seafood (mariscos al disco) but sometimes they just stick to meat, which is what we did in Algorrobo.

And it was absolutely delicious. We put in potatoes, onion, 6 cloves of garlic, wine, salt, chicken, sausage, carrot and green pepper and let it do its thing, stirring occasionally.

The chicken and sausage got nice and tender and the juices from the onion and meat mixed beautifully with the soft potatoes. Be sure to dip your bread in the juice!

Unfortunately, many of us do not have an open fire or a disco at our disposal, so I came up with a way to replicate this dish without the special equipment. And, maybe it wash´t exactly the same but it was really delicious nonetheless.

Grace´s Carnes al Disco sin Disco

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 small chorizo sausages

1 whole chicken cut into pieces or 4 thighs, bone in

2 large onion, sliced thinly

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 large carrots, sliced thinly (I used a peeler)

1 large green pepper, sliced

4 tablespoons of salt

1 pinch of tarragon

1 pinch of pepper

1 pinch of merken (optional)

5 large potatoes, peeled and sliced like french fries

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup of wine

DIRECTIONS:

Put in the onion, garlic, potatoes, chicken and sausage and put on medium high with a little bit of olive oil. After about ten minutes add the wine and carrots. After about 10 minutes add all the spices. Now, all you have to do is stir occasionally, and let this puppy simmer for about an hour, or as long as possible, until the onions are caramelized and the potatoes soft. Add a cup of water about halfway through. The chicken should be fall off the bone soft and the potatoes nice and soft.

Buen Provecho!

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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

Ingredients;

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

salt

pepper

1 teaspoon of sugar

a pinch of powdered sugar

fresh basil, chopped

olive oil

Directions: 

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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Cazuela de Ave and Learning Chilean Spanish


Happy Hump Day everyone!

It’s been a crazy few weeks. Been struggling to get the best schedule/work load to pay the bills and worrying about other useless stuff. A lot of boring things to do, like go and get my temporary RUT (half way to being Chilean!) and cash checks, blah blah.

But, I did have an eventful weekend, so that helps with the boring week. Last Saturday night I met up with some Chileans for a night out. By the time I got home my brain was swimming (for many reasons). Speaking spanish for 12-24 hours is exhausting, especially Chilean spanish. Although, I’m starting to pick it up (whether I like it or not). Thus far, I’d adapted “sipo,” (means yes basically) “cachai” (you know) “como estaí” (Como estas) but have yet to adapt “weon” (dude, sorta) because I’m afraid. All in good time.

Today is a slow day for me, with only one class at 6:30pm. So, what do I do with my spare time? Cook. Of course.

Today I took a stab at making Cazuela de Ave (see older blog post).
I seem to have a strong penchant for soups and anything that can be made in a huge pot. I love stewing, seeping, and simmering. The smell of spices and juices mixing….mmmm mmmm.

Cazuela de Ave is a perfect mix of Spain and Chile, blending native ingredients like pumpkin and corn with more european flavors and ingredients like rice, onion, garlic, and parsley. Traditionally, the soup might have been made with quinoa, red pepper, and local foul or meat. When the Spanish conquerors arrived on the scene, they named these soups “cazuelas” because they were made in large pots/tubs.

Cazuela is fresh, flavorful, hearty, healthy and filling. It is South American’s version of chicken noodle soup and my does it sooth the soul. Moist, soft hunks of pumpkin drenched in freshly made stock, garnished with herbs. What could be better? Serve it on cold winter nights or when your system needs a re-boot.

Cazuela de Ave

INGREDIENTS:

2 chicken legs, skin on (or thigh/leg, breast/leg combo)

6-8 cups of water

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 hunk of pumpkin of squash, cut into 4-6 large chunks

4 small potatoes, skinned and cubed

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 ear of corn, cut into thirds

1 teaspoon oregano

bouquet garni (click here for explanation)

1 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoon of salt

1 cube of bouillon (optional)

fresh parsley, minced

black pepper

cilantro, minced

1 cup of  white rice, cooked

thinly sliced green beans/red pepper (Or, I used a frozen veggie mix with peas and carrots)

DIRECTIONS:

Cook a small pot of rice and set aside.

Take you chicken and cover it with half the garlic, salt, and a dash of pepper. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and turn the heat to medium high. Stick the chicken in the pot and brown the skin slightly.

Next, add 6 cups of water, or until pot is a little over 3/4 full. Boil the chicken in the water for about 40 minutes until the liquid has absorbed the chicken flavor and the water looks more yellow and rich. I added bouillon to my broth at this point only because I didn’t have much chicken and the stock seemed a little bland, but in the future, I might not do this. It was a little salty.

Then, remove chicken from the pot and drain liquid through a strainer into a different container and set aside. In your original pot, add a few tablespoons of olive oil, the onion and carrot. Next, add the oregano, cumin, salt, and left over garlic. Stir until fragrant.  Add the potatoes, squash, and corn, green beans/bell pepper, bouquet garni, and the remaining stock and chicken pieces. Gently boil for 40 minutes, or until the potatoes and squash can be pierced with a knife.

To serve, put a tablespoon of rice at the bottom of a deep soup bowl with some of the vegetables. Next, add a piece of corn, a hunk of squash, potatoes, carrots, and a chicken leg (or piece of chicken). Garnish with fresh parsley and cilantro.

Serve with some warm fluffy pan del día and butter, and  nice big glass of red, Chilean wine. You’ll thank me.

Serves 2-4 (depending on how many pieces of chicken you use). I had tons of leftovers.

Simple, fresh, and satisfying, this dish a winner in my book, and might be the new, improved chicken noodle soup for years to come.

Has anyone else made cazuela and made it differently?

Stay tuned for more Chilean adventures. Until next time, ciao!

Grace Geiger

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