This recipe has been in the works for weeks! It all started on Facebook where my weekend feed was full of arepa pictures made by my cousins. After what may have been months, we finally came together one evening for an Arepa Night!
The origin of Arepas is conflictive; some say it’s from Venezuela and some argue it’s from Colombia. I don’t want to get in the middle of this eternal argument so I’m saying that this recipe is from the DC area. That’s why we are calling this “Are-pusas”. They are thinner than the original ones and have a cheese-y inside like pupusas.
Making Arepas is not something you make for one person. As you may notice, this recipe serves 10 or more people. Turn on some music (TuVida FM possibly?) and you’ve got yourself a party! Because of the variety of fillings, you can personalize it. Below, I have recipes for 2 amazing fillings but your options are limitless. If you’re mouth isn’t watering yet, don’t worry. Once you bite into them, you will ask yourself “How have I lived X amount of years without these in my life?!?!” When making them, I was overly excited. I thought I was in food heaven. Making Arepas is totally worth the time. Every Are-pusa is a flavor bomb. Be prepared to be amazed because there is nothing like this.
Ingredients (all approximate so use more or less if necessary):
- 2.5 lbs pre-cooked white corn meal (P.A.N. brand)
- A lot of water (12-16 cups)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 lb cheese mozzarella
In a large bowl, place all the white corn meal and cover with 4 cups of water. Let it sit for 3-4 minutes, until all water is absorbed. Using your hand, mix the flour with the water to expose the dry parts. Add 8 more cups of water and let it sit for 5-6 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Using your hand, mix the flour with the water to expose the dry parts. Repeat this pattern by adding 1 cup of water at a time until all there are no more dry spots. Break up all the clumps of flour (there are little dry pockets hiding in them). This step is a lot about the feeling. The dough should be moist and not sticky.
Add the butter and salt. Break up the butter using your hands and mix it in with the dough. Add the vegetable oil and mix until thoroughly combined.
Take a ball of dough (about the size of your palm). Flatten it in the palm of your hands and make a small cup, should be about 1/2 inch thick. Add a (little less than 1/4 cup) cheese and roll the dough back into a ball. Gently flatten it back into a circle with a thickness of 1/2 inch. Repeat with all the dough.
Meanwhile, heat up a skillet until hot. Oil with canola oil. Place the Arepusas on the skillet and let cook for 5-8 minutes, until they don’t stick on the pan and are getting brown at the bottom. Flip them over and cook for another 4-7 minutes, until the other side is cooked. Keep warm by wrapping in a towel until ready to serve.
When serving, cut them in half and fill with your desired filling (see below).
They can be stored in the freezer and reheated in the microwave, but like most things in life, they are better when fresh.
Celery Tuna Filling
- 2 cans of tuna, drained
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped thinly
- 2 tbsp mayo
- Juice of 2 limes
- salt, to taste
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until the tune is broken up into smaller pieces and coated with mayo/lime. Season with salt. This can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for a few hours.
Avocado Chicken Filling
- 2-3 avocados
- 4 cups shredded chicken
- salt/pepper, to taste
- Juice of 1 lime
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until avocados are completely mashed and coat the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately (doesn’t store well because of the avocado).