Pastel de Choclo

Chilean shepard's pie

I take my stroll at dusk, when the wild green parrots, squawking their loudest, flutter to an unknown destination through fuchsia skies. Over the subtle scent of dusty pavement cooling in the evening breeze, I detect distinct dinnertime repasts baking, bubbling, and broiling through open kitchen windows. My neighbors have arranged two card tables, end to end and draped in white linen, onto their driveway –al fresco dining in this part of town. I arrive back home as the crickets begin their serenade, filled with my own feasting expectations.

Pastel de Choclo

A Chilean shepherd’s pie with corn crust

Ingredients

  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, cut in quarters
  • ½ c. raisins (softened in warm water)
  • ½ c. olives (I used Kalamata, but stuffed green would be good, too)
  • 1.5 c. shredded cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen thawed)
  • ¼ c. milk
  • 3 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a casserole dish.
  2. In a frying pan, sauté onion and garlic in oil until slightly transparent. Add beef, breaking up large pieces and sauté until meat begins to brown. Remove garlic. Stir in paprika, cumin, oregano, and salt. Spoon into prepared casserole.
  3. Nestle eggs, yolk side down, into meat mixture. Scatter with raisins, olives and chicken.
  4. Puree corn in a blender or food processor. Add to frying pan and simmer until beginning to dry. Add milk and continue cooking until dry and darker in color. Add basil. Spoon corn over mixture in casserole, spreading evenly and sprinkle with sugar to help crisp crust.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes until top is golden brown. Finish under broiler, if needed.
  6. I serve this dish with a salsa of chopped tomato and chiffonade basil.

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