Arepas con Queso

These tasty fried corn breads are a staple of the Colombian diet.  They are served at breakfast or as a side dish during any meal.  My boys would eat these every day if I would cook them.  I had the chance to serve a few to non-Colombiaphiles the other night and they loved them as well.  Best served hot with soft butter spread across them!  This recipe uses some special ingredients.  Arepa flour is essential.  Cheese can be substituted.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 10-12 arepas

Ingredients

  • 1 cup arepa flour (this is precooked cornmeal, available in most ethnic markets – see note below)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup campesino cheese, crumbled (Colombian style is best but Salvadoran also works)
  • 1 cup water (will need an additional 2 tbs)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Mix together arepa flour, crumbled cheese, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in first cup of water, then add the 2 tbs of water as you mix by hand.  Dough should be soft, but cohesive.
  3. Let dough stand for 2 minutes
  4. Form 10-12 equal sized balls of dough, press them flat, shaping them to form a round patty.  Eliminate all cracks in the sides by pressing with your fingers.  Set finished patties on wax paper.
  5. Heat oil over medium hear in cast iron skillet until it shimmers.
  6. Fry in two batches, turning only once.  Approximately 4-5 minutes per side
  7. Set finished arepas on paper towel to drain
  8. Serve hot with soft butter spread across top.

Notes:  You must use precooked cornmeal flour to get the right arepa.  Masa or cornmeal will not work.  I recommend Donarepa brand.  P.A.N. is another good brand.

If you can’t find campesino cheese, you can substitute mozzarella or even monterey jack cheese shredded.  The best arepas use a cheese that crumbles!

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