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Arepas  

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Arepas are a popular Colombian snack, a cross between polenta, pancakes, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Thanks to Miami's large Colombian community, arepas turn up at carnivals and street fairs, where they're enjoyed by Columbians and non-Columbians alike.  The following recipe was isnpired by Bogota-born caterer, cooking teacher, and pastry chef Tania Sigal.  Arepa flour is made from cooked, finely ground corn.  Look for it at Hispanic markets.  Two popular brands of arepa flour are Goya and Pan.

Arepa flour is a special flour milled from cooked, dried, ground corn kernels.  It's finer than cornmeal but coarser than all-purpose flour.  There's really no substitute:  The closest in flavor is quick-cook grits.

Arepa flour comes in varieties made from both white and yellow corn.  I prefer the white: The resulting pastries are lighter.  This flour can be found at Hispanic markets and select supermarkets, where it is sometimes sold by the name masarepa or areparena.  Recommended brands include Goya, Iberia, and Pan.  Arepa flour is also used to make tortillas, empanadas, and buñelos.

CostInexpensive

Moderate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

Recipe Coursesnack

Equipmentgriddle

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Meallunch, snack

Taste and Texturecheesy, crisp

Type of Dishquickbreads

Ingredients

  • 1 cup arepa flour
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup coarsely grated Monterey jack or other mild cheese
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • About 1 cup very hot water

Instructions

Combind the arepa flour, salt, and cheese in a large mixing bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter and most of the water. Knead the mixture with your hands to obtain a mosit, pliable dough. Add more water as necessary: The dough should be the consistency of mashed potatoes. You may not need all of the water, or you may need a little more.

Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Wet your hands and roll each piece into a ball, then flatten it to make a patty about 3 inches across and 1/3 inch thick. Continue wetting your hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Alternatively, roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper and cut out 3-inch circles, using a cookie cutter.

Heat some of the remaining melted butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Fry the arepas until crusty and golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes per side. Working in batches, as necessary, to avoid crowding the pan. Add more butter or oil if needed. Serve at once.

3. Heat some of the remaining melted butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Fry the arepas until crusty and golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes per side. Working in batches, as necessary, to avoid crowding the pan. Add more butter or oil if needed. Serve at once.

 

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This is my go-to recipe for arepas. I'm Colombian and know what a good one tastes like! The perfect pairing for these arepas is guava jelly, preferably Palmalito brand (available at Publix). I prefer to add the cheese to the dough after it is mixed to prevent it from completely melting into the ough.

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