Tuesday, September 6

Chipa Guazu - Sweetcorn Frittata

Sweetcorn is in bang in season right now and is sweet, plentiful and cheap. I was browsing through my food journals for a way to use this vegetable other than ‘on the cob’ and remembered this unusual South American frittata. When choosing your corn cobs don't be afraid to peel back the outer casing to have a look at the kernels. They should be plump, and ooze a sweet milky juice when squeezed with a thumb nail. If they look wrinkled and dry, don't bother.

We visited a fantastic market in Argentina one Sunday where the locals were dancing, the malbec was flowing and paper plates piled high with barbequed meats and small squares of chipa guazu where in every hand. I think this dish may originate from Paraguay, but Argentina is near enough that I don’t hold it against them making it their own. Corn masa (yellow flour made of ground corn or maize) can be bought in many supermarkets (try Sainsbury’s special selection), but don’t panic - wheat flour works just as well.

4 ripe, juicy corn on the cob, peeled
50-100ml milk
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
200g mature cheddar
125ml double cream
125g corn masa or plain flour
4 large free range eggs, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 200c. Cut the corn off the cobs with a sharp knife. Put 2/3 of the corn in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste with a little of the milk to loosen. Scrape the corn paste into a large bowl and throw in the remainder of the unprocessed corn.

In a frying pan, cook the onion in the oil over a low heat for 10 to 15 mins. You want them really soft and lightly golden but not brown or crispy. Mix the cheese, cream, milk and onions with the corn, stir well then add in the corn meal or flour and mix until incorporated.   Finally fold in the beaten eggs.  If the mix is a little dry add more milk - it should have the consistency of porridge. Season well to taste with the salt and pepper.

You need a baking dish that will hold the mix when filled to a thickness of 3 to 4cm. I used a square 20cm brownie tin. Line the tin with baking parchment and fill with the mixture. Bake for 20 to 30 mins until the dish is golden brown and set in the middle – the centre should feel spongy and firm to the touch. Allow to cool before cutting into squares but serve at room temperature for maximum flavour. This is good picnic food eaten with fingers and a crunchy green salad.

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