Relleno de Choclo
(Sweet-Savory Corn Filling)
This is a sweet and savory, creamy corn filling used in the Chilean tamal called humita,
and the casserole called pastel de choclo. It employs a Chilean sweet corn
called choclero which I believe is unknown in the U.S. Choclero is
distinguished by its stout ears and fat, semi-milky kernels. It is harvested just as the
kernels have reached maximum size and turned from white to golden yellow. The popular
American sweet corn hybrids are characterized by long, slender ears, and small, very
sweet, milky kernels. This recipe has been adapted to account for the extra sweetness and
moisture of American sweet corn, primarily by the addition of polenta. (In Chile, the
cornmeal, or grits, made from the choclero is called chuchoca, which is Chilean
Buy the corn fresh and unhusked, if possible. Reserve the husks for the humitas.
You will have to play with the milk and polenta
to acheive the right consistency. It all depends on the moisture content of the corn. Some
chocleros are so dry, a cup of milk (and no polenta) will be necessary, while fresh
American silver queen may require no milk and up to a cup of polenta. You can even use
both, and you won't do any damage.
I have added the chopped shallots to the traditional recipe.
Relleno de Choclo (Corn Filling)
*Makes about a quart, enough for 6 individual pastels or 12 humitas*
6 large ears of corn
2 shallots, chopped
8 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
1 t salt
3 T butter
½-1 c milk, or
½-1 c polenta or cornmeal, depending on kernel consistency
Remove kernels from ears of corn using a grater. Or cut off kernels with a
knife and process very briefly in a food processor (do not liquefy).
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan and sauté the chopped
Add the corn, chopped basil, and salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring.
If the mixture is too dry, add the milk little by little, stirring
constantly until the mixture thickens. The amount will depend on the
moisture content of the corn. Stop adding milk when the mixture begins to
If too soupy, add the polenta gradually, stirring constantly until the
mixture begins to thicken. It should be creamy, not soupy nor thick.
Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, let cool, and chill overnight.