A Chilean favourite, pastelera con pato 

If I had to pick one recipe I cooked last year that stood out for me; I have to choose pastelera con pato, a simple corn mash with duck. This Chilean recipe brings back childhood memories, especially the corn mash which we often devoured in summer when corn was in abundance. We would gather for lunch in my grandparent’s backyard under the generous shade of a pergola or as the Chileans call it el parron. By summer the parron had been taken over by the vines and leaves of a grapevine that proudly revealed its fruit to the family. At some point during lunch, the family would start picking grapes from the parron, and the adults cheerfully shared tasting notes as if they were about to produce a bottle of Chilean wine right there and then. My grandfather would confidently announce they were the best Syrah grapes in Chile; we all just stared at him as we happily sucked the juice from each grape and neatly piled their skins on our plates like the little mountain peaks of the Andes. Often you would hear the neighbours celebrating a special occasion under their parron. Laughter, wine and generous servings of food were being shared around a table all over Chile.

Recipe (serves 4)

  • 6 sweet corns
  • 1/2 brown onion; finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 4 small leeks (or spring onions)


  1. In a heavy based pan fry the onions in the olive oil until soft and translucent. At the same time turn your oven to 210 C.
  2. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs and add them to a blender. Add one cup of milk and five basil leaves and blend until the mixture turns into a paste.
  3. Add the corn mash to the pan with the onions, and cook the ingredients at low heat for twenty minutes. Stir the ingredients and add milk regularly; make sure the pastelera does not dry and retains a creamy consistency.
  4. Grill the leeks in a dry pan until soft and slightly charred, and set them aside to incorporate them into the dish before serving.
  5. Add the duck breasts, skin side down to a cold, dry pan, over high heat. Leave the duck until fat is rendered and skin is crisp and brown. Turn the duck breasts over to sear and brown the other side. With a tablespoon remove some of the rendered duck fat. Turn the duck over again, skin side down and put the pan into your oven for 8 minutes.
  6. Allow your duck to rest for 4 minutes, slice the breasts and place the duck over the corn mash, add the leeks and serve. This dish is best enjoyed with a medium red like a Chilean Carmenerre or try one of Chile’s native grape varieties, Pais. Salud!




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