My Citizens, the always rich and buttery scion of gastronomic excellence – the mighty TFD himself! – is a huge fan of old-school, rich shellfish dips. Few recipes can match the savor of the classic pastel de jaibas – especially as made by the Generalissimo! 🙂
Chilean gastronomy stems mainly from the combination of traditional Spanish cuisine, Chilean Indigenous Mapuche culture and local ingredients, with later important influences from other European cuisines, particularly from Germany, Italy and France.
The food tradition and recipes in Chile are notable for the variety of flavors and ingredients, with the country’s diverse geography and climate hosting a wide range of agricultural produce, fruits and vegetables.
The long coastline and the peoples’ relationship with the Pacific Ocean add an immense array of seafood products to Chilean cuisine, with the country’s waters home to unique species of fish, molluscs, crustaceans and algae, thanks to the oxygen-rich water carried in by the Humboldt Current. Chile is also one of the world’s largest producers of wine and many Chilean recipes are enhanced and accompanied by local wines.
With the arrival of the Spanish conquerors led by Pedro de Valdivia in 1540 came some of the products that would become staples of Chilean cuisine – wheat, pigs, sheep, cattle, chickens and wine – while the native peoples contributed potatoes, maize, beans, and seafood. Various combinations of these basic ingredients form the basis of most characteristic Chilean dishes.
After the establishment of the colony, products and dishes like chuchoca (coarsely ground dry corn), Humitas, Locro and seaweeds like Cochayuyo and Luche served with boiled eggs became popular. Meals in colonial times tended to be heavy and rich. Lunch was always bigger than dinner, starting with a dish called “De Residencia” of fish, meat, or poultry, followed by a “Guiso” stew with Choclo (fresh sweet corn) and potatoes.
There were 3 kinds of bread accompanying the meals: Tortilla de rescoldo, Spanish bread (made of fatty dough), and Chilean bread (flat and crunchy). Lunch and dinner ended with herbal infusions, generally Paico to help digestion, and finally fruit for dessert, mainly strawberries and Lucumas.
In the seventeenth century, pastry was popularized by the nuns who baked it in convents. A popular Chilean saying, “tiene mano de monja” (“s/he has the hands of a nun”), comes from this period and refers to someone who is really good at baking or cooking in general. The nuns’ pastry recipes fast become popular among the rest of the Chilean population.
During the same period, geese and turkeys arrived in Chile from Mexico and melons and watermelons came from Jamaica. During the eighteenth century, Chilean cuisine started to become more sophisticated, particularly among the aristocracy. Tea and coffee began to replace Mate, Chilean wine became popular and people started to drink chicha, a sweet, undistilled wine made from fermented grapes or apples.
During the early years of Chilean independence, the so-called Patria Vieja, Chileans celebrated with empanadas, chicha and red wine, which is still traditional today at the annual celebrations of independence.
During the nineteenth century, Chile began to form its own identity and food became a part of this. Immigration, which had been limited and incidental at the beginning of the young republic, was now actively encouraged by the Chilean government between late nineteenth century and early 20th century.
The variety of produce increased with the arrival of German immigrants in the south of the country, who had a strong influence on Chilean cuisine, even until today. They brought with them pork dishes, sausages and pastries. Today, Berliners and kuchens are common in bakeries throughout Chile. Italian immigrants contributed pasta and meat products, and in towns like Capitán Pastene in the south of Chile, they still prepare Prosciutto in the same way as the first Italian immigrants.
In the twentieth century, French culture had a strong influence on Chile, including its cuisine: French gastronomy and techniques influenced the preparation of the food, and even replaced some dishes, for example the Spanish tortilla, which was replaced by the omelette. Along with the Italians, Germans, and French came Croatians, Greeks, Palestinians, Belgians and Basques.
In the 21st century, Chile is a modern and prosperous country with strong economic growth bringing greater disposable income and the consequent development of a rich gastronomic industry.
As noted on medievalspanishchef.com:
This particular recipe is actually a descendant of a 15th century recipe for spider crab in golden sauce. During Avenzoar’s time (1090-1162) it was said that to relieve the pain of someone whose eye hurts, one should remove the right eye of a spider crab and place it on the eye. Andalusians also used crab as an antidote against poison. [Anón/Grewe. 1982:CLXXXXIII:197:Apè III:241; Benavides. Nueva 1995:196; ES: “Common Spider.” Nov 3, 05; and Ibn Zuhr/García Sánchez. 1992:124]
As noted in the recipe found in “CAPITULO C AFFARE MAGNARE DE GRANGIE LIBRO B, OF ANONIMO MERIDIONALE: DUE LIBRI DI CUCINA, EDITED BY INGEMAR BOSTRÖM AND TRANSLATED BY REBECCA FRIEDMAN” – the original version called for saffron in quantity! I have added this original ingredient back into the recipe.
The aji chileno for this magnificent recipe should be made in advance.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 1 ½ pounds fresh crabmeat (Dungeness or of equal quality)
- 4 cups white breadcrumbs, chopped in a food processor without crusts
- 2 cups whole milk (ideally from a Jersey cow) combined with ½ teaspoon crumbled saffron
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, minced without seeds
- 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (if unavailable, use regular paprika)
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup dry Chilean white wine
- ½ cup shellfish stock
- 1 cup whipping cream
- ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons aji chileno
- For the aji chileno:
- 10 jalapeño peppers
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- To make the aji chileno: Cut the chile peppers in half, discarding all or almost all of the seeds. Marinate overnight or at least for several hours in vinegar to soften the skins. After marinating, discard liquid and purée peppers in a food processor with oil and garlic. Keep the aji in a sealed jar to add to the pastel de jaibas.
- To make the crab casserole: Clean the crabmeat, making sure to separate out any shell or cartilage. Mix bread crumbs and milk in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan and sauté onions, pepper mince and parsley with butter, garlic, paprika, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Deglaze pan with white wine and cook down for 2 to 3 minutes, adding the stock.
- Next, add in crabmeat, bread and milk mixture, and cream. Cook 5 minutes, stirring the whole time. Season with 2 teaspoons of aji chileno, or more to taste. Check overall seasonings and adjust to taste.
- By now the mixture should be moist and creamy, but not runny. If too runny, let simmer another 5 minutes until thickened. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F.
- Divide mixture into one large clay pot, called a pomaire in Chile after the artisan town that specializes in producing them, or into 8 individual gratin dishes. (Editor’s note: intrepid chefs can even load the mixture back into the empty crab shells.) Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Calories: 1573.58 kcal
- Sugar: 13.96 g
- Sodium: 2188.16 mg
- Fat: 100.2 g
- Saturated Fat: 29.77 g
- Trans Fat: 0.26 g
- Carbohydrates: 103.89 g
- Fiber: 8.74 g
- Protein: 59.38 g
- Cholesterol: 264.34 mg
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