If you've never tried an arepa before, you have been missing out. Arepas are to South America, what tortillas are to Central America and Mexico; a simple, easy to make, and yet ridiculously delicious corn-based staple and platform for creativity. These arepas are in a more Venezuelan style, a little more rounded and thick, and cooked primarily on the stove-top. This week we have been topping our arepas with Recado and Lime Braised Chicken, fresh avocado slices, and our Mexican Quick Pickled Red Onions. These arepas are also great with Paul's Yucatán Citrus Pulled Pork.
Yield: 8 large arepas, serves 3 to 4
- 2 cups white arepa flour (masarepa)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups shredded Recado and Lime Braised Chicken
- Garnishes of your choice (avocado, Mexican Quick Pickled Red Onions, shredded/crumbled cheese, cilantro, etc)
- Preheat oven to 250.
- To prepare the arepa dough, mix and knead together by hand arepa flour, water, and salt until it forms a smooth slightly tacky dough. Mixing the ingredients together slowly at first can help avoid lumps. Allow the dough to rest, covered, for 3-5 minutes.
- Divide the arepa dough into 8 even pieces, roll each piece into a ball and then gently flatten between your hands to form a disk that is roughly 4 inches across. The flatter you make the sides of the disk, the more even browning you will get while cooking.
- Add butter to a non-stick or cast-iron skillet and place over high heat, until the butter melts and just finishes bubbling.
- Add the arepas to the hot pan, pressing them down with a spatula to achieve good contact between the arepa and the pan. Only cook as many arepas at one time as you can fit in the pan without them touching. You will likely need to do several rounds. While cooking adjust heat to keep the butter from burning, while cooking at as high a heat as possible.
- After 4-5 minutes (or when the cooked side of the arepa is starting to brown) flip the arepa and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes on the second side (again until just starting to brown).
- Transfer the cooked arepas to a sheet pan and place in the preheated oven, while you continue cooking the other arepas stove-top. This will allow the arepas' cooking to coast to perfection in the oven while you finish cooking the other arepas stove-top. Make sure all the arepas get at least 5 minutes of oven time before eating.
- Remove the arepas from the oven, you can serve the arepas by splitting them open and filling (pita style) or mounding the toppings on top, we opt for the latter and top ours with Recado and Lime Braised Chicken and avocado and pickled onion. Eat while hot.