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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC

www.cathyskitchenprescription.com

 

Peruvian Choclo Cornbread

 

Mesoamerican dried corn comes in a dizzying array of colors and sizes. In Mexico and parts of Central America, corn is traditionally nixtamalized (treated with slaked lime), an alkali that loosens the kernels’ hulls, and alters its taste, color, bioavailability of niacin, calcium, and iron, and protects against mycotoxin contamination. Corn isn’t always nixtamalized, however. Apart from masa and hominy grits, most corn meals, flours, and polentas are not alkalized, however. I made this cornbread not with corn meal but with cooked whole choclo, the impressively giant Incan white maize prized in Peru. It bakes into a fragrant, lightly sweet cornbread, with a pleasingly dense, creamy interior (a little reminiscent of Tuscan torta di riso). Cooking dry choclo takes hours, even after an overnight soak, so consider cooking the choclo up to 3 days in advance. Or, to save time use frozen, dehulled fresh choclo, found in many Latino groceries instead, which cooks in 5 minutes.

 

Prep time 8 hours to soak choclo plus 3 hours to cook plus 15 minutes

Bake time 45 minutes

Makes two 9-inch pies or about 16 servings

 

1 pound dry Cuzco kernels

1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup date paste from 2/3 cup pitted dates, or to taste

2 cups unpasteurized soy or other low-fat vegan yogurt

 

To make date paste, cover the dates with water and heat in a microwave on high for 2 minutes. The dates will steep in the hot water as they cool. Then blend in a high-speed blender with enough of its soaking water to make a smooth, creamy soft paste.

 

To prepare dried choclo, rinse the kernels and soak for 8 hours in cool water. Drain, cover by a few inches of water in a saucepan and simmer for up to 3 hours, depending on the age of the maize. Begin testing after 2 hours for kernels with a soft interior. If after 3 hours they are still undercooked, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the pot (the water will foam immediately and the corn will turn a shade of yellow). Cook for another 30 minutes, testing for doneness periodically. If using defrosted frozen choclo, cook for about 5 minutes, drain, and add to the food processor.

 

Drain, cool, and transfer to a food processor. Add the baking powder, baking soda, date paste, and yogurt. Blend into a batter. Taste and adjust the amount of date paste to your liking.

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Distribute the batter evenly into two 9-inch glass pie plates. Bake on the middle oven rack for about 45 minutes but begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes. The cornbread is ready when it is lightly golden and crackled on top and a toothpick inserted in its center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack. Before serving, run a knife around the pie plate’s perimeter before cutting into wedges. Remove with an angled pie server. Serve warm.

Peruvian Choclo Cornbread

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