Cheese Arepas Recipe
Arepas, plural of arepa, is the staple food of Venezuelan and Colombian cuisines. Although its history is not known exactly, it is quite old. The first arepa was not made with cornmeal, but with dough obtained by mashing soaked corn. In the 1950s, an engineer produced precooked cornmeal, which is now used to make arepas. Thus, making arepas became very easy. The most well-known brand of precooked cornmeal is PAN, Producto Alimenticio Nacional, or National Food Product.
Is Precooked Cornmeal Necessary?
I'll explain it broadly, but the short answer is yes, it's a must. Although arepas are cooked by frying, this cooking consists only of sealing the outside. It remains in a dough-like consistency. Although it dries as it waits, its core remains wet. That's why it's essential that the cornmeal be pre-cooked. If you live in American or European countries, you can find precooked cornmeal sold as harina de maiz precocida. There are two versions of Harina de maiz precocida. Yellow and white. You can use both for arepas. You can even mix it in half. Unfortunately, I could not find Harina de maiz precocida online in Turkey. I doubt it's available in physical stores either.
But you can make your own precooked cornmeal. For this, you can take the standard cornmeal in a non-stick pan and stir fry it on medium heat, stirring constantly, until you feel its roasted smell without turning its color. In this way, the cornmeal will have a more granular structure like harina de maiz precocida and will be cooked.
If you are not convinced, consider precooked chickpea flour for hummus. When you mix standard raw chickpea flour with water, you get the raw chickpea smell and taste. But when you mix the pre-cooked chickpea flour with water and necessary ingredients, it becomes a delicious hummus. The same is true for arepas.
Are Arepas Hard?
As you may have noticed or will notice, arepas do not contain baking powder like pancakes or yeast or other leavening agents like bazlama. In this case, it is expected to be hard, but it is not. Although the most delicious form is freshly cooked and hot, it is also soft enough to be eaten with pleasure after waited for a while.
Are Arepas Stored Freeze?
You can keep the arepas in the freezer for up to 6 months raw or after cooked.
What Are the Types of Arepas?
There are very, very different versions of arepas between Colombia and Venezuela, and within those countries themselves. But to generalize, it is consumed more simply with butter and cheese in Colombia, and with filling ingredients such as meat, chicken and vegetables in Venezuela. These cheese arepas (arepas de queso) I am sharing the recipe for are Colombian style. The cheese can be placed in them after they are cooked, or they can be cooked by putting cheese filling into the dough. It can also be cooked a little more by placing it on top of it, in the oven or in a pan with the lid closed, until the cheese melts.
Enjoy the recipe...
- 2 cups of precooked cornmeal (PAN),
- 1 cup of warm milk,
- 3/4 cup of warm water,
- 1 teaspoon of salt,
- 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese,
- 8 slices of mozzarella cheese for stuffing,
- 2 teaspoons of butter for frying.
- Take water, milk and salt in a bowl,
- Add the masarepa slowly and knead until you get a dough like play dough,
- Take small pieces from the dough, roll them and flatten them by pressing,
- To make them with cheese filling, make larger pieces and flatten,
- Put a slice of cheese in the middle, close and form into flattened rounds,
- Melt a teaspoon of butter in a wide pan, put as many arepas as they can fit and fry both sides,
- Cut the cooked plain arepas in half horizontally and put a slice of cheese between them,
- Take them back to the pan and cook by turning them upside down until the cheese melts,
- To make them cheese on top, place the grated cheese on top of the cooked plain arepas and bake some more in the oven or pan with lid on until the cheese melts.
Enjoy your meal...