Thursday, January 30, 2014

Arepas: The Ultimate Gluten-Free Sliders with South American Flair


I think it's time to bring arepas out from under the radar and into the spotlight. An arepa is a thick flat bread made from pre-cooked corn flour, and found ubiquitously in Venezuelan and Colombian cuisines. It has to be P.A.N. pre-cooked cornmeal, otherwise it will not work (if you're curious why - read this "production" section). (I find it locally at Von's in the Latino section. Kroger carries it, too.) I remember clearly the first time I had arepas. My Venezuelan roommate, Vivi, made them one night for dinner. She made about a dozen of the arepas and served them still piping hot with a variety of lunch meats, cheeses, butter, and salsa. I was in heaven. My new favorite comfort food, and naturally gluten-free.

I figured these would be perfect as "sliders" for the big game. Everyone can customize them with whatever ingredients you feel like supplying.  I felt more on the South American/exotic/whatever was easy side of ingredients with precooked BBQ pork from the grocery (one of those roasted chickens would work well, too), pepper jack cheese, queso freso, pan-seared plantains, avocados, black beans, and onions. Get creative, or keep it simple. It's your call. It's all about the arepas. My muse for arepas is Caracas Arepa Bar in New York City - I love this place! Just check it out and you will be inspired, too.

Ingredients:
  • water, 2 1/2 cups
  • PAN precooked cornmeal flour, 2 cups
  • salt, 1 teaspoon
  • filling of choice: meats, cheeses, hot sauce, plantains, beans, avocado....
Directions:
In a large bowl, using clean hands, mix together the water, PAN, and salt.  Work the dough well until it thickens a bit and comes together.  Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Lightly oil the surface. Form the arepa cake using a handful of dough and shape it into a puck.  Place on heated surface and cook for about 12 minutes undisturbed.  Flip and cook for 12 minutes on the other side.  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool slightly.  Serve immediately with your spread of choice. Makes about 10-12 arepa sliders.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on sliders.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other awesome sliders to try out:    

1 comment:

The Heritage Cook said...

Hi Erin,

These Arepas are a genius choice for the slider week! I cannot wait to make them for my family - I'm sure they will be fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!!