Sweetcorn Pie (Pastel de Choclo)
A Chilean cook assured me: Pastel de Choclo is all about the delectable sweetcorn layer. No matter what goes underneath the mixture -- chicken, beef, or in this case, eggs and mushrooms, it plays second fiddle to the creamy, crusty topping with a slight sugar crunch. The typically Chilean accents of cumin seed, oregano, raisins and olives can be applied to whatever filling you choose downstairs. The same cooked sweetcorn mixture is often cooked alone encased in a corn husk, much like the Mexican Tamales.
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing
5 to 6 spring onions (scallions), sliced
5 1/2 cups frozen sweetcorn (corn) sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound 2 ounces mushrooms, sliced (about 6 cups)
6 hard-boiled (hard-cooked) eggs, sliced
3/8 cup raisins
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
about 20 black olives, stoned (pitted)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the spring onions and fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
To thaw the sweetcorn, boil the kettle. Place the sweetcorn in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Stir, then drain thoroughly.
Place the sweetcorn in a food processor with the spring onions and oil in the pan and process to a thick purée. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender to purée the corn in a bowl. Scoop the purée into the frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add a little salt and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until thickened slightly. The texture will differ depending on the corn -- add a little milk if the mixture is too stiff -- you want to achieve a spreading consistency, a bit like mashed potato.
Heat another frying pan over a medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the mushrooms with a generous pinch of salt and pepper to taste and fry until the mushrooms collapse.
Oil the casserole or gratin dish. In it, combine the mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, raisins, cumin seeds, oregano and olives. Spread the corn mixture over the top, to cover edge to edge. Smooth the top and sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until well browned on top, then serve.