Cooking with Calley P: Celebrating Chilote

Calley Prezzano is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained Chef who has made a career in fine dining cuisine, emphasizing fresh & local products from the area. In this new blog for The Nicaragua Dispatch, Chef Calley will share a few struggles, triumphs, and recipes that make cooking in Nicaragua an adventure for all five senses. This week: giving chilote its due in a Jardinero Steak Pot Pie

It might be global warming, but the unseasonable rainy days have been great for our local garden!

chilote growing in the garden

Today I picked collard greens, beets, ayote squash, and my favorite: chilote. Chilote is a small corn that is most famous for its supporting role to Tom Hanks in the 1988 movie Big.

I’d never eaten it fresh before I moved to Nicaragua, and now I’ll never go back to the canned version. It’s great simply roasted with parmesan and a bit of lime.

Corn is prevalent in Nicaraguan cuisine. It’s grilled on the street corner, thrown into chicken soup, or dried and ground into masa for tortillas or a sweet corn beverage known as Chicha (available in alcoholic or non).

I can’t remember seeing Chilote showcased on a menu. But it deserves its due.

Chilote mixed with a few other local vegetables creates the perfect bed for a hearty dinner after a long day of working, surfing or just sitting in a rocking chair.

Which brings us to this week’s recipe:

Jardinero Steak Pot Pie

biscuit topping

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup sugar

4 Tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick), cut into 1/2” cubes

3/4 cup cold milk


  1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Using your fingers or a fork, gently mix in the butter, crumbling it into small pea sized shapes. Do not overmix. With a fork, stir in milk until just mixed. Alternately, this process can be done in a food processor.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in four, roll out into small circles. Keep on parchment or wax paper in the refrigerator until ready to use.



chilote and other veggies getting their sauté on

1/2 cup butter

2 cups ayote tierno, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” pieces

12 chilote, peeled and cut into 1” pieces

1 small onion, cut into 1/2” dice

4 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 cup thinly sliced beet greens

2 cup thinly sliced collard greens

2 pounds Nicaraguan beef filet*, cut into 1” cubes

1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons iodized salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon mustard

1 teaspoon hot sauce or 1/4 teaspoon chile flake

1 cup white wine

4 cups broth/water

1 egg



digging into the finished pot pie!

1.   In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in ayote, chilote, onion, garlic and greens. Lightly sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft.

     2.    In a small bowl, toss the beef with flour, salt and pepper. Stir into the vegetable mixture and until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, hot sauce and white wine. Stir and reduce until almost dry. Add broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 15 minutes, until beef is tender and sauce is thick.

     3.    Transfer the filling into 4 large oven-safe bowls.

     4.    When ready to bake, place one biscuit on the top of each bowl.

     5.    Crack the egg into a small bowl, and, using a pastry brush, brush the top of each biscuit with egg for a shiny, elegant finish.

     6.    Bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes, until biscuit is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.


*if using posta instead of filet, add two extra cups of broth and simmer for an extra 20 minutes.


 Calley Prezzano was classically trained in San Francisco, California. She has cooked in Michelin Star Restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and was the founding Executive Chef of Jicaro Ecolodge in Granada, Nicaragua. She is currently the Executive Chef of La Finca y El Mar Restaurant in Rancho Santana in Tola, Nicaragua. (,,


  • rico

    I have had the honor of tasting Chef Calley’s creations over the last several years………..and she is “over the top” – fabulous. In my book, she would be the odds on favorite to win “Top Chef” regardless of the competition. Plus, she has a great smile and bubbly personality.

  • Jan

    Very well done!
    Will be checking the local markets for fresh chilote.