The large kernel Andean corn known as choclo has a nutty, chewy taste and is slightly less sweet than North American corn. Choclo is often paired with queso fresco as a snack in South America or served as a side dish with a savory chile cheese sauce.
This recipe is a North American take on that delicious choclo and cheese combination. If you can find frozen Andean choclo at your local Latin food market, you'll enjoy its unique taste in this rich, cheesy dish. This casserole would make a great Thanksgiving side dish, as it represents indigenous local flavors with a North American casserole-style presentation.
- 1 16-oz bag of frozen choclo kernels
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 tablespoon aji panca paste, or 2 teaspoons minced chile pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the frozen corn. Cook the corn until it is just tender but still chewy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain corn and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, sauté the minced onion, cumin, and aji panca paste in the butter over medium heat, until the onion is soft and fragrant.
Add the flour and stir for a minute or two, then whisk in the milk. Continue to stir until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese, queso fresco, and 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter or grease an oven-=proof casserole dish.
Stir the cooked corn into the cheese sauce, then place the mixture into the casserole. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese and the mozzarella cheese over the top of the corn. Heat casserole in the oven until the cheese is melted and the corn is bubbly.