Culinary Icons: Coyam & Chilean Corn Pie (Video)

by Liz Caskey on July 11, 2011

Oh sigh. Summer nostalgia has officially hit. I know many of you are indulging in the sweet tastes of summer. Nothing says summer for me like sweet corn. Growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I remember pulling off the road into farm stands where our Amish neighbors would sell recently picked corn. With butter and a touch of salt, it was sheer delight. Doesn’t everyone love corn?

Chileans, too, have an affinity for all things corn, although it’s a far cry from sweet corn. In fact, the corn husks can be the size of a rugby ball with brownish silk. It’s not sweet and not tender so they grate it off the husk to form a very fine yet textured pasta  that is seasoned to taste with salt and sugar, usually with some sauteed onions and fresh basil, to become tamales or the iconic pastel de choclo, Chilean corn pie. A sort of shepherd’s pie with a topping of corn and cumin-and-chicken tinged base, it’s sweet and savory, meaty and toothy texture will have you hooked. Chileans actually count the number of “pies” they eat in a summer season since they are such a project to make.

Do not be fooled, this video may make it look simple, which it is, but it takes time to create the layers of this dish. I did a long mise en place for this video and made the finished product ahead of time (ahh, the magic of TV…or maybe I shouldn’t be telling you that). However, you will be rewarded for your kitchen grunt work with the amazing taste and leftovers (which taste better and better). For this kind of culinary opus, I suggest pairing it with an equally iconic wine like we do in the video such as Coyam 2008 from Emiliana Orgánico. Many of you know I have written about Coyam and why it’s such an interesting Syrah-based blend of 5-6 grapes. It is one of those wines that always has personality, never the same. Yet it is always consistent and surprising. It’s also one of the most accessible icon wines from Chile price-wise.  Buen Provecho.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Todd - VT Wine Media July 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Delicioso!
We make pastel a couple of times a year up here…yes it is work, but oh so worth it. We’ve even got the brown earthernware vessels to bake in…I think it makes a difference.
Cheers.

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