Pastel de choclo (corn and beef casserole) and Humitas are both corn-based Chilean dishes which can be found all over Santiago, especially at the farmers’ markets. The corn “pudding” layer will caramelise in the oven and results in a delicious salty and sweet taste that is similar to a shepherd’s pie.
Corn and beef casserole is called pastel de choclo, which means corn pie. This dish is referred to as the Chilean version of shepherd’s pie because it is not in the form of crusted pie. It is baked in individual serving, earthenware bowls, called paila.
Humitas or steamed fresh corn cakes are very popular in the Sierra or Highland region, especially in cities like Loja, Cuenca or Quito, and they are typically eaten for breakfast or with the afternoon coffee.
What are Corn and Beef Casserole and Humitas?
Corn and beef casserole is like a corn pie made with sweet corn or choclo — the Quechua word for “tender corn” or new corn of the season. The filling or stuffing used is called pino.
This dish has ingredients such as garlic, onion, minced meat, hard-boiled eggs, and olives. It is a comforting recipe in Chile as the perfect dinner dish with its beautiful combination of South American flavours.
Humitas are savoury steamed fresh corn cakes made from a mixture of freshly ground corn, onion, garlic, cheese, eggs, and cream, which is placed inside corn husks and steamed, held together during cooking with a thread or twine.
One could compare them to fresh corn and cheese tamales. They are made using sweet corn, which is ground with other ingredients and then stuffed in a sweet corn husk and steamed.
History of Corn and Beef Casserole and Humitas
The food history of Chile can be traced back to before the Spanish came in 1541. Before that, the natives used corn in most of the dishes. Chilean cuisine is the beautiful combination of the cuisines between the native tribes and that of the Spanish conquistadors.
This fusion formed various corn-based dishes which are still popular among Chileans until now, including humitas and pastel de choclo.
This corn and beef casserole is inspired by humitas which take native South American corn to make a new dish by the indigenous Mupache people. By combining the elements of humitas with ground meat, pastel de choclo is widely spread across Chile.
Types of corn and beef casserole and humitas
The type of corn used in this dish is also essential as it will affect its consistency. The native Chilean corn that is used to make this casserole is the sweet corn which has a lot of starch in the corn kernels.
This starch allows the corn to hold together like dough. Choclo is a type of Andean corn, which is larger and meatier than the usual corn and is popular in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
The meat filling, which is also known as pino, is similar to the filler found in Chilean empanadas. Other than that, the typical ingredients that are mixed in the pino are onions and paprika. The shredded chicken will also be added into the mix sometimes. Hard-boiled eggs, olives and raisins are also added to enhance the flavour and adding the creaminess to the dish.
Where to Find Corn and Beef Casserole and Humitas in Malaysia
Corn and beef casserole and Humitas can be found in most Chilean restaurants in Malaysia. Other variations of this dish are also available at Imperial City Restaurant (Kuala Lumpur) and China Paradise restaurant. Log on to foodpanda and order more of your favourite Chilean dishes from our wide selections of restaurants.