Monday, October 10, 2011


Location: Southern South America
Area: Over 750,000 sq km; 38th largest in the world
         Slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
Religion: 70% Roman Catholic
Population: Almost 17 million; 59th largest in the world
Capital: Santiago
Today, Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations[8] and a recognized middle power.[10] It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, low perception of corruption and state of peace.[11] It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development.   - Wikipedia
Source: CIA Factbook

What a change after the African countries we have been doing the last few weeks.  It is nice.  I did a report on Chile in grade school, which meant that clearly I was already an expert.  All I needed was to find out some recipes.  So many countries don't have a national dish to speak of.  Sorry, "...of which to speak."  Chile, on the other hand, apparently has many.  Every website I found that claimed it knew the national dish listed something different.  Guess I'll have to make a decision!

It didn't take very long.  I quickly ran across this recipe for pastel de choclo.  At least one site had this listed as the national dish, and it seemed easy to follow and delicious.  Early success!  As a bonus, I generally have most of those things on hand.

I always feel good about a recipe that requires me to get out multiple spices.  Yay.
I finally actually found cumin seed!
Lately, if I only need half an onion, I cut up the other half too and freeze it.  That way, next time I need some, I can just pull it out and voila.  It is a seriously time saver.  I highly recommend you try it.  So I just took out some frozen onion, the defrosted beef, some garlic, and the spices.  I was able to do this all on a weeknight, too.  That fact is a win.

Chicken stock > water, so I went with that.  It was all starting to smell very good and I was getting excited.  Time to process some corn!  Cornmeal +cornstarch + corn + sugar in my food processor.  I was worried about the non-specific amount of milk I was going to have to add, but it ended up working out pretty well.  It easily made a thick batter.

It didn't take long to get to this point.  45 seconds to a minute, perhaps?
Not very shockingly, at this point our kitchen smelled like corn.  I had to thicken the corn puree on the stove with some butter.  Overall, the steps were quite easy.  Not really much to write about.
Some of it actually started to cook up, a little like cornbread, which I found interesting.  There weren't estimates of time on a lot of the steps, but they happened quickly enough that I didn't need to worry, which was a nice change.
Kevin always has to do my volume estimates, because I am pretty horrible at it.  This may be one of the few times that we think he didn't get it right.  Probably could have used the smaller casserole pan.

Plus sugar on the top.
Ugh, I still need to figure out this camera.
And...bake!  It leaves some time to play with the cats.

No photos!
Kevin attack!
That's it?  Really!  Now the food is done.  Pre-cut onions and food processors make things much better.
It was a little greasy.
Ugh, messy table.  But yay home brew!
So what does excellent smelling meat + a lot of corn equal?  Not what you would have hoped.  The corn was super-sweet.  Ridiculously so.  There was a comment about US corn being sweeter than that that is found elsewhere, but I didn't realize the extent.  After a few bites it was almost unbearable.  We didn't eat much of it at all.

I gave a little to Kevin as leftovers recently.  He said after three bites he was sugared out.  Yes, he had already had a cookie (grumble, grumble), but this is the boy who can subsist on Thin Mints alone.  If he was sugared out there is a severe problem.

I don't think this is as much of a recipe problem as an ingredient problem.  If you find different corn or omit the sugar, I think you could get a whole different dish.  It smelled great and all of the separate parts are good, so I think this one deserves another chance.  Someone should try it without the sugar!

Everyone get ready, because....

Next time: China

1 comment:

  1. What a bummer, because that dish could be very delicious! We make one similar to it, only we use cornmeal instead of fresh corn, and cook it up like a hot cereal - we don't add any sugar either.

    It is a quick, easy meal...I think I know what I am making for dinner next Thursday!