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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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Life on the Daily: Beef Curry and My Beef with Chile


Happy Friday y’all.

It’s been about a week since my last post. This is why:

1. I have not been cooking interesting things or eating out much because I’ve been sitting around my house, trying not to spend money. This will change, but during April, pickings are slim. Money is being saved for trips and weekend outings. Also, I’m still sort of figuring out Chilean food. I didn’t come here knowing much and am starting from scratch with what is available here, how to make it, what it’s called, etc. I need a cooking guardian, some nice Chilean to show me how to make authentic dishes in her home. Right now, if I only made Chilean food, that would mean eating hot dogs and french fries everyday which would kill me in a week.

2. Nothing that exciting has happened. Regular life is regular life. I’m not on one big vacay, I’m doing the daily livin’ thing as a poor teacher. Sometimes that just involves watching Confessions of a Shopaholic with Spanish subtitles and eating chocolate…..what can I say.

This week had some ups and downs.

Ups involved getting one more class (still need more work! Right now I have about 5 classes a week. I need more like 8-12 classes a week to be makin’ ma rent), going to the ZOO, and getting my apartment and life more straightened out. The Zoo was sweet, I’m definitely going back. Sure, it wasn’t the best zoo I’ve ever been too, but giraffes and zebras and lions are always fun to see, and the older i get, the more I’m fascinated by exotic animals. Plus, the funicular is pretty cool.

Downs  of the week included having my camera die at the zoo, not having enough to do, cloudy weather, and general frustration with lack of work.

I think on the whole I feel  I’m hitting that one month mark where Chile is losing it’s exotic, newness and I’m starting to realize life is life, and work is work, even if it is in a fun new place. The money part is frustrating too. Not because I don’t have enough, but because life is expensive! Especially getting a new place. All the sudden paper towels, groceries, toilet paper, metro passes, shampoo, pots, and kitchen supplies all really start to add up. I’m not looking to make a fortune here, but I want to be making my rent and also just be more busy during the work week, feeling productive.

But, enough whining (unless it’s Winning or Wining). Really this is the life. And I’m very happy.

So happy, that I made delicious beef curry!

Shout out to Bryce in Uganda, this recipe is for you. For you and all the strange curry mixtures you made. Even though I made fun of you, some of them were pretty legit and I’m totally copying you in this recipe. Yes, beef curry is not Chilean but its delicious, cheap, and easy.

Quick and Easy Beef Curry with Potatoes

Ingredients:

Beef (I bought a big chunky steak type cut. Any stew meat will work, and fatty is probably best), cut into cubes

I large carrot, diced

1 large onion, diced,

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon of curry powder

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons of sugar (brown sugar is even better!)

2 tablespoons of salt

fresh lemon juice (one lemon will work)

black pepper

3 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup of water

Directions:

In a large pot, put the onion, garlic, olive oil, beef cubes, and all spices. Once the meat has browned a bit and the onions are soft, add the carrot, potatoes, and all spices except bay leaf, salt, and sugar. Once all the ingredients are mixed and fragrant, add the water, sugar, and salt, and put the lid on. I would let this baby simmer for about a half hour at least. you want the potatoes and carrots to be soft, and the liquid to have become nice and brown from all the meat juices. Once the curry look how you’d like it, and the juices have reduced to a thicker liquid, add lemon juice (or a splash of red wine vinegar).

Serve over rice with cilantro for garnish.

Well, I’m off to enjoy a sunny Friday afternoon. Have a great weekend!

Madras Beef Curry

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