This is a family favorite, a main dish from my youth in Chile. The word choclo is a "chilenismo" for maize or corn, probably a native indian word. The word pastel means cake, but pie would be a better translation. There are many savory-sweet pastels in Latin American cooking: the combination of sweet (sugar, raisins) and savory (meat, olives, etc) is unusual to the American or European palate, but it works!
Best made with fresh corn, frozen sweet corn works quite well and makes it a relatively easy meal if you have food processor. Since American corn is plenty sweet, I leave out the added sugar, and my family prefers if I skip the raisins that are traditionally mixed into the meat.
Pastel de Choclo
The meat part:
1 # ground beef (I use 1/2 # ground beef plus 1 can of black beans)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
2-3 T cumin
1 t+ paprika or chile powder, to taste
optional (traditional): 1/2 c raisins, black olives, sliced hardboiled egg
Cook meat, and drain liquid if needed. Add spices to taste. Spread in the bottom of a wide casserole dish, cover with corn topping, and bake until topping is browned slightly (approx. 3o-40 min)
The corn topping:
3-4 c corn kernels
traditional: sugar, evaporated milk to taste
In my childhood, I remember many hours were spent grating the kernels directly from the cobs around harvest time. Now I just defrost the corn, and process into a paste together with an egg and some milk (if needed).
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