October 6, 2011

Chilean Carmenere & Pastel de Choclo

I was recently able to sample a couple bottles of Carmenere from Chile. I have drank a bit of Chilean Carmenere before and actually think it's darn good wine to go to when one wants to find a value wine under $15. That being said, I can't say I drink a lot of Chilean wine, as I'm a bit too obsessed with wines from the motherland most of the time.


Along with the wines came a recommendation to try the wines with the Chilean dish called Pastel de Choclo, which translates roughly into Sweet Corn Pie. Pastel de Choclo is apparently, somewhat of a national dish in Chile and other parts of South American. I mean, who doesn't love a meat and corn pie? The pie was actually really tasty in a down-home-peasant-food-stew kind of way. A perfect dish for a cold night, or to start your day with if you plan on doing manual labor for 10 hours. I included the recipe below for those interested in making the dish.

The 2007 Falernia Carmenere Reserva was a good match for the dish. As with many Carmenere, the wine was brawny, plummy., chocolaty, and tannic, which actually played quite well off the sweetness of the corn and richness of the beef. The wine was a bit oaky for me, but there was some nice underlying material here and the wine could probably use a bit more age to shed some of that young oak. A good wine for its $14 asking price.

Pastel de Choclo (Sweet Corn Pie)

by Pilar Rodriguez
Serves 6 to 8

1 whole skinless chicken (3 lbs.) boiled and shredded
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
3 cups chopped onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 pinch cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
½ cup raisins
10 black olives, pitted
3 hard boiled eggs cut in wedges (4 to 6 pieces)
Black pepper to taste, freshly ground

Sweet corn topping:
12 cups fresh or frozen sweetcorn
1 cup cream
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 pinch fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons melted butter
5 leaves of fresh basil cut in julienne
8 teaspoons sugar (optional)

FILLING: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and the crushed garlic with the oregano, pinch of cumin and salt until the onions are cooked. Add the meat in one layer, and cook until golden. Then, using a spatula, turn the meat and sauté the other side. Once the meat is cooked, add the sweet paprika and mix well. (If you stir the mixture from the beginning, the result will be too watery). Prepare this filling the day before and once cool, refrigerate until needed.

SWEETCORN TOPPING: Using a food processor or blender, gradually grind the corn, adding the cream as you go, until a smooth, uniform purée is achieved. Put the mixture in a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly. When it thickens, withdraw from the heat, add the beaten egg and melted butter and mix well. Add the basil, season with salt and pepper and reserve.

ASSEMBLY AND BAKING: Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Grease a baking dish or 8 individual ramekins. Fill the baking dish or each ramekin to 1/3 with the filling. Add a layer of the shredded chicken and then arrange the raisins, olives and egg wedges evenly on top. Finally, cover with the corn mixture. For an authentic finish, sprinkle sugar on top. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve immediately.

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