Up until today I'd been buying pre-made arepas in the supermarket. Brands like Don Maiz, Delicias del Maiz, and La Bumanguesa are all pretty good, plus there is a lot of variety available (white corn, yellow corn, with cheese, super thin, thick, with or without salt, etc.).
But on my last trip to the supermarket I decided that I should start making my own. Instead of buying a bag of arepas, I brought home a bag of white cornmeal and this morning for breakfast I made the dough and shaped 6 little arepas. I cooked one to go with my fried egg and refrigerated the rest for snacks throughout the week.
The easiest way to make homemade arepas is to buy a bag of P.A.N. pre-cooked white cornmeal. All you have to do is add water and salt, then you shape them, cook them, and you're done.
I think the most time consuming part of the whole process is making the patties. They don't have to be perfect (kinda like mine) but what is important is a consistent thickness so that they cook evenly. It's pretty simple:
Yields 6 patties
1 1/4 cup luke warm water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup P.A.N. white cornmeal
Place the water and salt in a bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the cornmeal and begin to mix with a fork. Once most of the water has been absorbed, start mixing with your hand until a slightly tacky dough forms.
Let the dough rest for a few minutes then get to it...
Take a handful of dough and start shaping patties - avoid cracked edges and try not to make them any thicker than 1/4 of an inch.
Place the arepas on a hot, lightly greased skillet and cook until they start to turn golden brown (about 8 minutes) then carefully flip over and repeat on the other side.
Once both sides are a little crisp and golden they should be done. Tap the arepa and it should sound slightly hollow.
- If you are making several arepas then have your oven preheated to keep them warm while you cook the rest.
- If you want to make more arepas you can just double the recipe without any problem.
- To make cheesy arepas, grate some cheese and add it to the dough before cooking. Another alternative is to sandwich some cheese inside the dough and seal the edges.
- You can shape the patties and store them in the fridge for a couple of days. That way you'll have arepas ready to throw on the skillet for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
- In Colombia, arepas are usually served with butter and salt or fresh cheese. I also like them topped with cream cheese.
- I've never been to Venezuela but from what I gather, one major difference is that they tend to split their arepas in half and smear the inside with butter or cheese or fill them to make a kind of sanwich. Colombian arepas are usually too thin or full of cheese to split in half...
Have you ever made your own arepas? How did it go?