Just like in other Latin-American countries, beans and corn are part of the regular diet of Chileans. We have different ways to prepare them, and we also use different names. Beans are called “porotos” and corn is called “choclo.” We mostly use two types of corn, the small, yellowish kind that you can find at every grocery store in the U.S., and a type that we call “pastelero,” a big, milky ear of corn; it is about twice the size of regular corn. As for beans, the most popular kind are “porotos burros” and “porotos granados.” I was able to find on a Canadian website that this kind of bean is known as “cranberry beans,” but so far, I haven’t been able to find them in Salem.
It is hard for me to decide what my favorite Chilean foods are, and it is difficult to pick just a few. I’ve tried to make some Chilean dishes here in Salem, but since I have not been able to gather all of the ingredients and have used substitutes, it wasn’t the same. But, whether you just want to know about Chilean foods or want to try and prepare some Chilean recipes, here are some ideas.
Empanadas de pino
The empanada comes from the Arab countries and was passed to the Spaniards and through them to the Americas. The most popular variation in Chile is the “Empanada de Pino,” which is basically a meat empanada. Empanadas can be used as an entrée and are absolutely delicious. I’ve been able to make empanadas in Salem, and the recipe is quite simple.
Empanada Dough Recipe (Makes enough dough for 8 large empanadas)
4 cups flour
1-2 teaspoons salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
12 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3/4 cup cup water
2 egg yolks
-Sift the flour into a bowl. Stir in the salt and the sugar.
-Work the butter and shortening or lard into the flour mixture with your fingers until well blended.
-Whisk the egg yolks into the water. Stir in the 1/2 cup of water/egg mixture, a little at a time until the dough comes together smoothly. Keep kneading the dough, adding more water/egg a little bit at a time as necessary (you made need more than 1 cup), until the dough is very smooth, about 5-10 minutes. You can knead the dough with a standing mixer and a dough hook attachment.
-Cover the dough with saran wrap and let rest on the counter for about an hour. (Dough can also be kept overnight in the refrigerator, then brought to room temperature before using.) Dough should be soft and smooth, and not elastic – if you poke a hole in it with your finger, the indentation should remain.
-Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and roll into desired thickness.
Empanadas (Dough + Filling)
Empanada dough (see recipe above)
3 large onions, chopped
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped olives
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
-Prepare empanada dough and chill.
-Cook the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil and butter until softened. Add the ground beef, cumin, chile powder, paprika, beef bouillon, and salt and pepper to taste.
-Cook the beef, stirring and crumbling the meat, until browned. Add the flour and continue to cook for 5 or 10 minutes more.
-Remove the meat mixture and let cool. The beef mixture will keep up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
-Shape the empanadas: Separate the dough into golf ball size pieces, and roll into smooth balls. Let rest for 5 minutes. On a floured surface, roll each ball of dough into a 6 inch diameter circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Add 1 tablespoon of the beef filling, a few raisins and some chopped olives, and a slice of hard boiled egg to the middle of the circle.
-Brush the edges with water and fold the pastry in half over the filling, to make a semi-circle.
-Seal the edges by pressing down with your fingers. Brush the sealed edge lightly with water, then turn the edge toward the middle and press with your fingers to seal.
-Mix the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons milk, and brush the empanadas with the mixture.
-Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Pastel de Choclo (Corn Pie)
Pastel de choclo is a delicious dish, that when prepared properly, can be a fantastic meal. I’ve used normal corn to make pastel de choclo in the U.S. It is not quite the same, but it tastes okay. One tradition is that it should be cooked and served in clay bowls, but if you don’t have them around, you can always cook it in a pyrex dish.
Ingredients (Serves 12)
6 large ears of corn, grate the kernels
8 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter
1/2-1 cup milk
4 large onions, chopped
3 tbsps. oil
1 lb. (1/2 kg) finely ground lean beef
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 cup black olives
1 cup raisins
12 pieces of chicken, browned in hot oil, seasoned with salt,
pepper and cumin
2 tbsps. sugar.
-Heat the grated corn, chopped basil, salt and butter in a large pot. Add the milk little by little, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
-Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Leave to one side while you prepare the meat filling.
-Fry the onions in oil until transparent, add the ground meat and stir to brown. Season with salt, pepper and ground cumin.
-To prepare the pie use an oven-proof dish that you can take to the table.
-Spread over the bottom of the dish the onion-ground meat mixture. Arrange over this
the hard boiled egg slices, olives and raisins.
-Put the chicken pieces on top, bone the chicken if you like. Cover the filling with the corn mixture.
-Sprinkle the sugar over the top.
Bake in a hot oven 400 Deg. F (205 Deg. C) for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Serve at once.
In Chile more sugar is served to sprinkle over the “pastel” as it is eaten.
Porotos con mazamorra.
Porotos con mazamorra is something I haven’t been able to cook here. In fact, I just found a website where they sell cans of cranberry beans. I might try to make them, but, I don’t have the right type of corn here. We’ll have to see what happens.
Ingredients (Serves 10)
2 lbs bag of frozen corn
2 sprigs of basil
2 cups of milk
600 grams of fresh cranberry beans or kidney beans.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 carrot thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste.
chives for garnish.
-Put the cranberry beans to cook on 2 qts. of water making sure that the beans are covered.
-While the beans are cooking put in a blender the sprigs of basil and some of the corn.
-Blend it until it becomes creamy by slowly adding the milk. Do this until all the corn is blended. Save this cream in the fridge until the bean are cooked.
-Once the beans are ready, in a skillet fry the onions and the carrots and add them to the beans.
-Add the corn cream, salt and pepper to taste and cook in slow heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
-Once the corn is cooked take the pot out of the stove, serve and garnish with chives.
Of course, you need to have some sort of salad to go with either of the dishes mentioned above. The Chilean salad is quite simple, but is absolutely delicious.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 large yellow onions
1 chili pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons of cilantro
1 ½ tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
– Slice onions julienne style. Put the sliced onions in a bowl with boiling water for 30 minutes. Change the water two or three times. Make sure you’re not cooking the onions.
– Slice tomatoes in cubes, mix in with the onions.
– Add oil, salt and cilantro.
Make sure that the onions are cold when you mix them with the rest of the ingredients. Usually, Chilean Salad is served with raw onions, but since that is a bit strong, putting them in hot water helps to make them softer to taste.
Mote con Huesillos.
Finally, we have a delicious dessert. Mote con huesillos is basically mote (a cereal) with dried peaches mixed in peach juice. It is quite savory and perhaps the healthiest thing you could ever have in Chile. Mote con huesillos is perhaps (along with bread) the thing that I miss the most about Chile.
15 whole dried peaches
1 cup of sugar
¾ pound of wheat
-Put the peaches in water during all night before and be sure water covers them. Next day put this mixture in a pan, add the sugar and cook it until tender. Let it cool in the pan.
-In a pan put the wheat and boil it all to loosen the wheat skins. Drain it and with your hands rub the wheat to remove the skin. Wash the wheat again and boil it once more, for 15 minutes, drain again and cool.
In a serving dish, place the cooked peaches with some of its juice and sprinkle it with the mote.
I hope some of you will try and take the challenge to make at least one of these recipes, they are really good.