Chilean Shepherd's Pie (Pastel de Choclo)
With seasoned ground meat beneath a layer of corn puree, pastel de choclo, or Chilean shepherd’s pie, might be the national dish of Chile. Translating it for kitchens north of the equator is not without its challenges.
Why This Recipe Works
Our research turned up pastel de choclo recipes calling for both ground beef and lamb—we tried them both and preferred ground beef. We found that generous amounts of onion and spices were necessary to produce the flavor that we were after. Rather than stir the eggs, olives, and raisins directly into the beef, we layered these ingredients over the beef because our tasters liked the visual, textural, and flavor distinction of multiple layers. For our accessible Chilean shepherd’s pie recipe, we needed to find a way to turn sweet, milky American corn into a topping that was thick enough to sit on top of the meat filling and dry enough to brown lightly in the oven. After much experimenting, we determined that kernels cut from half of the ears combined with kernels grated from the other half, along with the pulp scraped from all the cobs, produced a topping with a nice texture that was thickened by the corn’s natural starch.