Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cheese Arepas

 
Gluten free friends, take note! I have grown to love Latin cuisines much more than ever since I've been living gluten free. Who knew that Latin cuisines were so gluten free friendly? These Cheese Arepas are a perfect example in which you can enjoy something that seems gluten laden, but not. Slightly crisp on the outside yet soft and tender on the inside, these little pancakes of cheesy goodness are quite a treat whether you're gluten free or not. These were one of my favorite dishes I prepared for my Brazilian Carnival Dinner and I'm already coming up with other variations to the delicious arepas to make very soon...

Arepas are technically Latin style pancakes that can be made either sweet or savory. Most of the time, they're savory and can incorporate different flavors and ingredients. The most common are cheese arepas but you can make them filled with herbs, vegetables and even meats like chorizo or chicharrones (pork rinds). I've made a few kinds of arepa recipes the past few months but this definitely is one of my favorites and its so easy too. The only unique ingredient in the recipe is the arepa flour, which is precooked cornmeal. I purchased this at local Latin markets but you should be able to find it in the Latin aisle of most grocery stores. (I recommend the Goya or Pan brands.) They're delicious on their own as a snack, as a side dish (in place of bread or a starch), or even as a meal when used as a base for an open faced sandwich or pizza. Have fun with arepas... it's a dish everyone should try at least once!

Cheese Arepas
recipe from Epicurious
2 1/2 cups milk - I used whole milk
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups white or yellow arepa flour (precooked cornmeal) - I used yellow
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup grated mozzarella
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in butter.
Combine arepa flour, salt, sugar, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Add hot milk and stir until combined.

Let mixture stand until milk is absorbed enough for a soft dough to form, 1 to 2 minutes (dough will continue to stiffen).

Form dough into 12 balls (about 2 inches in diameter) and flatten between palms into 3 1/2- to 4-inch patties (about 1/3 inch thick).

Heat ‚ tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over moderately low heat until hot, then cook 3 or 4 arepas until cooked through and golden in patches, 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Make more arepas in same manner, adding oil as needed.