In the south, we have “hoe cakes,” but in South America, specifically Venezuela and Columbia, they have “arepas.” While arepas are similar to hoe cakes, their distinct difference comes from the type of corn meal used. Hoe cakes are made from unlevened simple cornmeal, but arepas use pre-cooked cornflour, which can be found in many larger supermarkets.
In my quest to find new “breads” for sandwiches, I’m willing to try just about anything, and after watching a Cooking Channel show, I decided that an arepa might be just what I’m looking for. Then, the only challenge would be to decide how to top or fill my arepa “sandwich.” In the end, I went for a tostada/open faced sandwich idea with a southwest theme.
Making arepa dough is quite easy, and as I discovered, the dough can be made ahead of time and left to “rest” while you prepare the rest of the meal.
2 1/2 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
2 c. pre-cooked cornflour (masarepa)
**for a twist, add 1 tsp garlic powder to the dough mix
1/4 c. vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, stir together cornflour and salt (and garlic powder, if you want). Gradually stir in water until mixture resembles a workable dough (you can form it into a ball and it holds). Form dough into 8 equal sized balls (use an ice cream scoop). Pat each ball into a disk and fry in hot oil until golden brown.
In our household, pulled (shredded) pork is a staple. Between the Crock pot and the electric pressure cooker (and the fact that my husband and sons love it), I make pulled pork almost weekly. However, as great as pork is, it can get a bit boring, so I’m always looking for new ways to flavor it.
2 lb. pork shoulder meat (boneless)
2 tsp sea salt
12 oz. porter (or dark ale)
3 chipotles in adobo
2 ancho chiles
1 head of garlic-top cut off to expose the cloves
4 oz. can tomato sauce
Cut pork shoulder into several large chunks. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. In a pressure cooker, combine porter, chipotles, anchos, garlic, and tomato sauce. Add in pork chunks. Close pressure cooker and set timer (if electric), for 45 minutes. If you’re not familiar with pressure cookers, the time will count down once the inside has pressurized. If a pressure cooker scares you, add everything in the crock pot, turn it to low, and let it cook for 6-8 hours.
Once done and tender, leave meat in the cooking liquid until ready to shred and serve.
While my husband and boys think that BBQ sauce goes on everything, I get seriously tired of seeing the giant bottle on the table. I want…I need variety.
1 c. mayonnaise
1-2 chipotles in adobo (depends on your heat tolerance)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt & pepper to taste
**Puree in the blender. Spoon mayonnaise into a squeeze bottle and drizzle on anything and everything!
Cactus Salsa Verde
12 large tomatillos
2 cactus paddles-scraped to remove needles & cut into small chunks
2 poblano peppers-seared over a fire or in a cast iron skillet
1 large onion
1 c. High Heel Brewing Slingback (or any citrusy ale)
**Place all ingredients in a 1 qt saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes or until everything has softened. Puree in a blender. Serve on tacos, arepas, burgers, etc.
1 large red onion
1 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
2 TBSP sea salt
2 tsp pickling spice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
**Slice onion into thin rings. Bring all other ingredients to a boil and cook until sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from heat, add onion rings, cover, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Can be stored in the refrigerator in an sealed container for up to 2 weeks…if they last that long. These are great on burgers, salads, tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, and arepas!