September 10, 2010 | 7:12am
Holy arepas, Batman!
The Colombian snack arepas are great street food fare. But they're also easy to make at home. All it takes is a griddle, some masa, and a little love. To prove how simple they are, I made a batch of nontraditional arepas stuffed with mashed black beans and a mixture of cheeses, then sauced the cheesy, gooey discs with fresh homemade salsa. And I took pictures of the process from start to finish. The whole thing took about 25 minutes and was easily as good as a Dolphins Stadium cart arepa (only, you know, at home). Just follow these pictorial instructions to find your way to arepa Friday.
Here's what you'll need:
100 percent pure corn meal, extra fine. Whether you choose yellow or white corn meal is up to you.
Refried beans. I used some mashed-up black beans I had previously made, but any canned refried beans are just as good.
Cheese. I used a mixture of shredded cheddar and Swiss, but really, any mild white or yellow cheese will do.
I made a rustic salsa to go with my arepas. It's easy: Two tomatoes, half a yellow onion, two small serano chilies, and a handful of cilanto. Pulse in a food processor until smooth, then add the juice of half a lime, salt, and pepper. The beer is there for moral support.
Now you're ready to bang:
Making the arepa "dough" is easy. Mix equal parts masa and water. Add 1 TBS of butter and salt for each cup of corn meal. Allow to rest for 2 or 3 minutes after mixing, and be careful not to overwork.
Pinch off about a 1.5-inch ball of dough for each half of your arepa. I don't have a tortilla press, so I used a square of wax paper folded over on itself to create a smooth disc that won't stick. (Note: Stunt hands used in this picture.)
Press the masa into round discs about 3 inches across. If you don't want to stuff them, you can stop here and just griddle these up.
Once you've got your discs pressed, start by spreading about a TBS of beans onto half of the discs.
Next add your cheese. Do not overfill or your arepas will turn out more like pucks.
Place a plain disc of masa on top of your dressed disc and begin crimping the edges around the two. Make a nice tight seal so the cheese and beans don't ooze out while cooking.
After crimping the edges, go back around and make the disc nice and flat and round. Pretty.
Now it's time to cook. Lube up your griddle with a thin layer of olive oil and set over medium heat. Fry your arepas for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crunchy -- but not burnt! Remove from heat and serve right away.
To finish, serve with some more beans, a simple salad, and some of that homemade salsa. Happy arepa Friday!