Pastel de choclo

Recipe: Pastel de choclo con polenta

I recently inherited a bag of polenta that I had to put to good use. Instead of going the easy (Italian) route, I decided to see if I could use it to sub fresh Peruvian corn to make our version of cottage pie. Thus, pastel de choclo con polenta was born.

The recipe calls for ají amarillo paste and ají panca paste. If you don’t have ají amarillo I would not bother trying to find a substitute as most chilli pastes will add heat rather than flavour. If you don’t have ají panca for the filling, you can use tomato paste instead.

This dish is gluten-free and can be made dairy free by using non-dairy milk. Keep in mind the topping will be firmer than traditional pastel de choclo.

Pastel de choclo con polenta

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Topping

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or ghee
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp ají amarillo paste (optional, see notes above)
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

Filling

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or ghee
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp ají panca or tomato paste
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  • 4-6 botija or kalamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil for the topping in a pot at medium-low heat, add onion and garlic. Cook until very soft (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add ají amarillo paste (if using), cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add polenta, milk and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Take pot off the heat, let cool down.
  5. While the polenta mix cools down: preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and heat oil for the filling in a pan at medium-low heat.
  6. Add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook until very soft (about 10 minutes).
  7. Add ají panca paste or tomato paste, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.
  8. Add beef mince and cook until browned.
  9. Season with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn heat off and mix in sultanas and olives.
  10. Whisk eggs and mix with topping.
  11. Spread filling in a baking tray, top with polenta mix.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the topping looks golden-brown.
  13. Serve with a green salad.

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