Paraguayans LOVE their bread and cheese. It is practically in every dish they have, whether Chipa (a bagel type of bread stuffed with- you guessed it- cheese), Sopa Paraguaya (A corn-bread type dish chock full of cheese), or pretty much any other kind of delicacy in Paraguay, save the carne asado, which is just mounds of grilled meat. As a Peace Corps trainee living with a homestay family, I find it impossible to not be served bread and cheese in some capacity during every meal. Want some soup? Oh guess what, there’s cheese and bread in it! Want some salad? Well, you can just go right ahead and eat the huge loaves of bread in the center of the table as a side- Duh, Brittany!
But I have a guilty pleasure. There is a special Paraguayan delicacy that I have come to love more than anything- Chipaguazu. I first had ChipaGuazu when Vicky, another Peace Corps trainee, brought me some as a present from her homestay family (my Mom and hers live two minutes from each other and are constantly battling over who can fatten up the other volunteer more. Vicky has had my Mom’s fried eggplant and cake and I’ve had her Mom’s ChipaGuazu and Sopa Paraguaya). From the first bite I was immediately hooked- forget the high calories, forget that I’m inhaling nothing but corn, eggs, milk, and cheese- ChipaGuazu is the most BOMB-DIGGETY thing EVER!
If I had to try my best to compare ChipaGuazu to an American dish, I would have to say cornbread- but this puts cornbread to shame. Chewy and slightly burnt on the outside, creamy and gooey on the insides, ChipaGuazu feels like heaven in my mouth- whether straight out of the oven or served cold for breakfast the next day. I could eat it forever- and I bet you could too.
So with this in mind, Vicky invited me to her house to learn how to make ChipaGuazu with her homestay family, and I decided to post a recipe of it (AND pictures, AND a video!) on here. ChipaGuazu would be perfect as a side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Family Reunions, you name it. Make this for your next party and it’s sure to be a hit!
So without further ado… ChipaGuazu!
Here are the two main ingredients… One Peace Corps trainee, Vicky,
And another Peace Corps Trainee, Brittany
Something to keep in mind about our ChipaGuazu recipe: In Paraguay, people don’t take the time to carefully measure out ingredients and say ‘And now we put in two cups of flower and four tablespoons of salt.’ Paraguay is all about eye-balling the amount. While Carla (Vicky’s homestay mother who made the ChipaGuazu) was tossing in all kinds of ingredients and I asked how much it was, she would shrug or answer with ‘THIS much!’ Not very helpful! Because of this (and also because I don’t have measuring cups and can try through trial and error myself), I have a lot of pictures and video provided to help you get through these steps.
Recipe for ChipaGuazu (double batch)
Can feed anywhere from 10-20 people depending on the size you cut
– Yellow corn separated from the rind (In Paraguay it was ‘Two bags’- Hopefully you will get an idea from the pictures)
– Six eggs
– 350 mL of milk, or .35 Liters. It would be best if the milk was unpasteurized (straight from the cow’s udder), but regular old milk will do just fine. Just make sure it’s whole milk- we’re not skimpy on this dish!
– Sunflower Oil (about 300 mL, or .3)
– A little over a pound of cheese (The cheese used here is ‘Paraguayan cheese’- as a substitute, you could probably use any kind of cheese, but it would probably be best to find white crumbly cheese that has a dull taste but sharp aftertaste)
– Salt (I say ‘to taste,’ but in Paraguay ‘to taste’ means about 5 times the amount than most are accustomed to- so be VERY generous!)
– A strainer, a blender, a large bowl, a large greased pan (see pictured), and a large spoon
Prep time: One Hour
Bake time: Half an hour
Chipaguazu is traditionally cooked in a tatakua, the guarani brick oven pictured above. This gives the Chipaguazu a really smoky flavor and a perfectly crisp top layer. Usually the tatakua has been prepped a few hours beforehand to ensure maximum hotness. Chipaguazu can also be cooked in the oven as a substitute!
I hope this picture will give you some idea of the corn needed for this dish- about a strainer full (granted, we only used about 85% of the corn in the strainer….)
Step One: Wash the corn, two times.
Step Two: Crack three eggs in the blender and then turn on the mixer.
Step Three: While the blender is still on mixing, take three heaping handfuls (use two hands!) of corn kernels and put them into the blender.
Step Four: After adding in the corn, slowly pour in half of the milk needed. Afterwards, pour in about a third of the sunflower oil. This is what the texture should look like after done mixing.
Pour the mixture into the large bowl.
Repeat Steps One-Four again (crack three more eggs, three more heaping handfuls, the rest of the milk, and another third of the sunflower oil). This is a double batch, after all! Again, pour into the large bowl.
After pouring in the mixture, add the rest of the sunflower oil and a little bit more milk.
Here is the Paraguayan cheese! White, creamy, and crumbly.
Step Nine: Crumble the cheese into the large bowl, and then mix vigorously with a spoon for a few minutes. Here’s the fun part- add as much salt as you want to your heart’s content- while stirring.
This is what the consistency should look like once finished.
Our Master Chef Carla demonstrating the greased pan to pour the ChipaGuazu mixture into.
Step Ten: Pour the ChipaGuazu into a pre-greased pan.
Step Eleven: Sweep all of the coals and firewood out of the tatakua
The other side of the tatakua with all of the coal swept out.
This is what the inside of the tatakua should look like.
Step Twelve: Place the ChipaGuazu into the tatakua and cover both sides. This will make the insides of the tatakua EXTREMELY hot and fully bake the Chipaguazu.
A snapshot of some of the ChipaGuazu and also Sopa Paraguaya (another Paraguayan delicacy) inside the tatakua.
The grilled chicken is finished first.
The ChipaGuazu, halfway done!
Step Thirteen: You will know the ChipaGuazu is fully cooked when you stick a knife into it and it comes out clean. The time it took to cook in the tatakua was about 20 minutes.
Well-la! AMAZING ChipaGuazu!
Thanks to Vicky and her homestay family for such a wonderful afternoon.
Last but not least, Vicky and I created a video to give you a little bit more detail on how to make ChipaGuazu (and to eyeball the measurements).
Enjoy and have a good week. I am leaving tomorrow morning to go to another area in Paraguay for four days- I’ll be sure to update when I return!
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