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IMG_0362Back to south America this evening and to Chile.     Rory s first reaction was

I am not having chilli!!

Non of us are having Chile and I am determined to find something a little different that one would expect to have if you were visiting or even staying with someone who resides there.

Found in South America, Chile is a country that lies on the Pacific Ocean. It is a very narrow strip of land with the Andes to the East, Peru to the North, Argentina to the East and the Drake Passage in the far south.  Territories in to be included in Chile are the wonderful pacific Islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile has also obtained approximately 1,250,000 square Km of Antarctica, but at present this is suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

There is a great mineral wealth in Northern Chile in the dry Atacama Desert and is chiefly copper. The central region is where you can find the main inhabitants and agricultural resources, and the centre for culture and politics which Chile developed in the late 19th century and at this time Northern and Southern regions merged. In Southern Chile we can find an abundance of forests and land used for grazing and rumbling volcanoes and lakes. and the coast line is a tangled warren of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.

In the 16th century Spain “conquered and colonised”  Northern and Central Chile, this replaced Inca rule, but they failed to conquer the Mapuche that were populating South central Chile. In the 1830’s, following independence from Spain, Chile developed as a somewhat unwavering established demanding and controlling nation. During the 19th century there was a substantial and weighty economic and regional growth which actually saw an end to the Mapuche resistance in the 1880’s and also gaining its current Northern territory. Today Chile is  one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nation and really not wanting to bore you , more info can be found here

Meat is very important in Chilean cuisine and for many Chileans it is essential ingredient in every dinner or lunch. According to studies, Chilean per capita meat consumption (including poultry, beef and pork) has doubled in the last two decades while seafood consumption has decreased.

The food from Chile primarily branches from a mixture of local/indigenous Chilean Mapuche culture, local sourced ingredients and that of traditional Spanish cooking. Much later on do we see the European influences becoming important. The food culture and recipes from/in Chile are renowned for the mixture of flavours and ingredients which are thanks to the countries varied geography and climate.

Chilean food should not be confused with the spicy dishes common in Mexico. Unlike Mexican meals, the hot chilli is not too frequent in Chile.

I obviously wanted to cook something that we would all eat and enjoy, but also something very traditional and after trawling the net a few sources gave me the same information… Pastel de choclo literally means “corn pie”, but not a pie in our traditional self, more like a cottage pie in looks and from what I can gather has become the national dish of Chile…In 1810 when Chile declared their independence from their original Spanish roots other European influences made their mark and this dish is a mix of native and European influences alike. Commonly known as

Cocina Criolla Chilean or Chilean Creole Cuisine

Pastel de Choclo is a brilliant example of this amalgamating corn, which is an indigenous product with a very much European sway, meat filling and means plainly a layered pie, usually made in a deep dish with chopped beef at the bottom prepared “al pino” (a thick stew of minced or chopped beef, chopped onions and seasoning), chicken, olives and a hard-boiled egg, topped with a mixture of ground fresh corn and basil, and baked in the oven.

It looked like an easy dish to prepare so Ian got on with it….

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Just lightly cook the onion until soft and then add the minced beef, cumin salt and pepper. Cook until crumbled and brown, then remove and place to one side

Ian used tinned sweet corn for this recipe as it seemed easier and quicker for him rather than actually cooking and preparing corn cobs..basically the kernels are blended in a processor with the milk until it all looks creamy and smooth. This is then added to a pan of melted butter and seasoning, with more milk, stirring until thickened, remove from the heat and add the chopped basil.IMG_0366

Ensuring you have boiled the eggs required all that it takes now is to layer up the recipe.. I found another recipe that actually put the corn mixture on the bottom as well as the top, but this one that Ian used was only on the top.

Ensuring the liquid is removed from the mince, place in the bottom of the dish and begin layering – Sprinkling the raisins, olives, and hard-boiled eggs over the beef, then layer the chicken on top. Ian misread the menu about the chicken, so bought the wrong sort. The recipe would be better with cooked chicken breast as suggested.   Spread the corn mixture over the top of the casserole so that it covers the rest of the ingredients. The recipe asks for  powdered sugar to be sprinkled on top, but we omitted this.

The dish was then baked in a preheated oven for around 40 minutes until the top was golden.

Family Verdict: OK, I think was the verdict of this dish. The mince was flavoursome and the layers were interesting. The chicken, as previously mentioned, should have been chicken breasts and I believe would have helped with flavours. The corn mixture on top was very interesting and actually to me very sweet and am not convinced I liked it. The consistency was that of a cottage pie.  Rory didn’t like it, but what’s new there. Ian said OK, but wouldn’t rush to have it again…
 

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