Arepas With Black Bean Or Chicken Carnitas Filling

We first learned about arepas when Venezuelan  baseball player Miguel Cabrera came back from the off-season quite a bit heavier than when he left the major leagues. Supposedly the problem was that he went partying too much and ate too many arepas, Venezuelan street food. All we knew is that they were cheesy, fried, and made with cornmeal. That was enough for me, I wanted to try it! We've made them twice now, and they are super delicious and actually really easy!

(adapted from Epicurious

1 cup arepa flour (precooked cornmeal, we found this at Market Basket without much trouble)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup water
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Toss together arepa flour, cheese, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl, then stir in water and milk until incorporated. Let stand until enough water is absorbed for a soft dough to form, 1 to 2 minutes (dough will continue to stiffen).

Form 3 level tablespoons dough into 1 ball and flatten between your palms, gently pressing to form a 1/4-inch-thick patty (2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches wide), then gently press around side to eliminate cracks. Transfer to a wax-paper-lined surface. Form more disks with remaining dough in same manner, transferring to wax-paper-lined surface.

Heat oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then fry arepas in 2 batches, turning over once, until deep golden in patches, 8 to 10 minutes total per batch. Drain on paper towels.

Slice the arepas in half and scoop out the soft middle. Fill with a filling of your choice, we did carnitas one time and black beans another time (sorry the recipes are cryptic, they are from Tucker and he doesn't remember exactly how he did them).

Chicken carnitas filling

Put a 2 lb package of skinless chicken thighs in a crock pot with two halved limes, a couple Tbs of salt, a couple Tsps of pepper, a cup of water, and a couple Tsps of cumin. Let it cook on low for 6 hours.

Black bean filling
Saute onions, black beans, garlic, spinach or kale and chili peppers, season to taste with salt and pepper.


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