Corn is one of those ingredients which Peruvians use in countless preparations. One of the most popular and delicious Peruvian dishes that uses corn is corn pudding or Pastel de Choclo, and here’s how to make it.
Why pastel de choclo is such a fantastic dish
Pastel de choclo is one of the favorite dishes that my Peruvian husband’s family makes and was one of the first dishes I learned to prepare when I moved to Lima over 12 years ago. This corn pudding is filled with beef, raisins, black olives, and hard-boiled eggs. It’s almost the same filling that is used for empanadas, papas rellenas, or arroz tapado. But believe me, the combination is amazing and it becomes completely new when eaten this way.
A good Pastel de Choclo must be soft and creamy; you should be able to eat it with a spoon (or a fork if you wish). I use cream instead of regular milk in my recipe for the extra creaminess. Here in Peru, we have access to the Peruvian giant white corn, but if you can’t find this any white corn can be used. Don’t use sweet yellow corn though, because the result will be totally different. Many Latino specialty stores in the U.S. sell Peruvian corn, but many times it’s already cooked. If you can find it frozen and uncooked, that’s what you would want to use.
Variations of Pastel de choclo
There are Pastel de Choclo versions that substitute the beef with chicken or seafood, but I prefer this traditional version with the beef. A vegetarian version is also very easy to make, substituting the beef for cheese slices, or simply preparing it without a filling. I typically prepare this recipe the evening before I serve it and heat it up in the oven the next day. You can enjoy this dish as an appetizer, entree, or side dish. It tastes best served warm. Many people enjoy this dish served with Salsa Criollo or the popular Huancaina sauce. This is a filling dish and Peruvian “comfort” food.
The recipe: Pastel de Choclo (corn pudding)
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Serves: Approximately 8-10
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil, divided
- 1 pound (½ kilo) minced beef
- 2 chopped white onions
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon aji panca paste (Panquita), optional
- ½ cup beef stock
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup raisins
- 4 to 5 cups raw, white corn kernels
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup cream (crema de leche) or milk
- 4 to 5 tablespoons sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 1 egg yolk combined with 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon aniseed
- In a saucepan, heat ¼ cup oil over high heat. Add the ground beef and cook for 8 to 10 minutes stirring constantly. Transfer to a bowl. In the same saucepan heat the remaining oil, add onion, and garlic, and cook stirring a few times until transparent. Add tomato paste, aji panca paste, and beef stock, cook for 5 minutes, and return the meat to the pan. It should be wet and saucy.
- Incorporate the olives, hard-boiled eggs, and raisins. Stir and turn off the heat. Reserve.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). In a blender, process the corn kernels with the cream and melted butter. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and egg yolks. Transfer to a bowl, and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture looks very soft. Beat the egg whites until firm and gently fold into the corn mixture.
- Grease a 9 x 13 Pyrex pan. Pour half the corn mixture into the pan, cover with the cooked beef mixture and top with the remaining corn mixture. Brush the surface of the corn with the egg yolk and water mixture. Sprinkle with aniseed.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Should be golden and firm.