Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Diary of an Inconsistent Cook #42: Arepas with Ground Beef and Broccoli Slaw #homecooking

I love bread and all of its cousins.   I am especially fond of fresh breads, pockets, quick breads, muffins, scones, fry bread, biscuits, and cakes that are fast and easy to prepare whenever I want them.   I adore yeast leavened breads, but they take more time than roti, tortillas, and quick breads.   Today I decided to make arepas!   It is a corn flour based English-muffin-looking, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside bit of deliciousness.   I am told it is popular in Columbia and Venezuela.  There seems to be some dispute over if they are better thicker, split and filled, or made thin and the toppings piled on.

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You need 2 cups of pre-cooked masarepa white corn flour.  You can’t use Masa harina or maseca (the authentic nixtamalized hominy corn used for tamales, pupusas, and tortillas), cornmeal, or regular corn flour.   It must be masarepa, masa de arepa, or masa al instante (un-nixtamalized soaked, cooked, dried cornmeal).  Substitutes won’t work.  Learn from my dismal failures.    I have read that you can get a fair taste approximation using all purpose flour, a little baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, mixed with well pureed and strained creamed corn.  If you feel lucky, you can walk on the wild side.

Where was I?

Ah!  Two cups of the masarepa, 2 cups hot water, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper (optional), 1 tsp sugar (optional), 2 tbsp soft butter.     You can use oil instead of butter, and you can add shredded cheese.   I saw one recipe calling for one egg, and another used some milk.    I decided to go basic.    I prefer to combine the hot water, butter, salt and pepper first and then add the masarepa.    You want a nice soft dough that holds together.  Let it rest for at least fifteen minutes to let the corn granules rehydrate.

In the meantime, choose your fillings/toppings.    You can use cold cuts, cheese, meats, vegetables, or just eat them as is.  You are limited only by the contents of your pantry.

I made ground beef with onions, green peppers, garlic, cumin, cilantro, paprika, Aleppo pepper, sugar, a dash of Worcestershire, salt, peppers, and a few spoons of left over tomato sauce.    No, I don’t have a recipe.  You are lucky I had an approximate one for the arepas; don’t get greedy.

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Unlike tortillas, you need to oil your pan.  You want them golden brown.  Make them a little thinner than English muffin thick for splitting if you want them sandwich style.  Make them flatter, but thicker than tortillas for toppings.

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They are kid friendly since they are pliable like play dough.

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Let the damn things rest before you cut them in half or you will melt off your face and fingers with the trapped steam.   I warned you.

I served ours with left over cheese that was getting near the end of life and a quick broccoli slaw.

How do you arepa?

 

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