Arepas con queso

Stuffed arepas Arepas are a popular breakfast dish in Venezuela and Colombia. They are corn cakes made of precooked cornmeal (I like the white variety). I was introduced to arepas by a friend in college. Her father was from Colombia and her mother would frequently make arepas (and wonderful empanadas). We would eat them with carne mechada (shredded beef) and black beans for dinner. Ed grew up eating arepas with cheese, carne and a side of black beans for breakfast – aka Pabellón Criollo, the traditional Venezuelan breakfast. So obviously they are very versatile and good at any time of the day. Ed says that in Venezuelan people basically treat them as bread making all kinds of sandwiches with arepas – ham & cheese, black beans & onions, shredded pork, etc. So, I present to you our breakfast this morning, Arepas con queso. We used a fresh Latin cheese called Guayanés, however, any fresh white cheese (e.g. Farmer’s cheese) will work. I also like them with cheddar & feta but don’t tell Ed – it is heresy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa de arepa (masarepa)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh white cheese

Directions

Place the masa in a bowl and mix in the salt. Add the water and stir with your hands until the water is absorbed. Let sit for 5-10 minutes then knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.

Shape into 2″ to 5″ patties (just depends on how big you’d like your arepas) that are about 1/2-inch thick. Cook in a cast iron skillet on medium-low heat until outsides are crisp and the inside is cooked. This will take 10+ minutes.

ArepasServe while hot. Cut each arepa in half and fill with white cheese (or carne, or black beans, or ham, etc.).

Yield: 4 servings

Notes

You can also crumble the cheese into the dough (about 1/2 cup) so it melts while you cook the arepas. These are great filled with beef or beans.

7 comments on “Arepas con queso

  1. Well, I get it at the new Latin store in town (and actually Publix started carrying it, too). You probably can’t find it in Oregon, however, you can get it online at Latin Pantry or you can ask me for some and I’ll send it :)

  2. where’s the writer from? im venezuelan, but i live in canada. and i come from guayana, the city of guayanés cheese. lol, is amasing… and, in venezuela, pabellon criollo is not always a breakfast. actually, this is the first time that i heard/read that =S and, there’s an excellent venezuelan flour (made in colombia.. =/) named P.A.N. the pack, has a smiling woman. the plastic, i mean, the pack itself, can be orange, yellow (the most common) or white… all of those flours taste a little bit different, but still good. For those who live in vancouver, as soon as you got off in joyce station, walk strait four blocks in direction to kingsway. turn left as soon as you get to a corner with a 7eleven in front of you. the 4th store is “los guerreros.” is like 4$ or 5$, but it worth it… =)

  3. A lovely recipe! Thanks very much for the simple directions as well as the helpful background information. However, when I used 2-½ cups of water for 2 cups of masa, the dough turned into a pancake batter-like substance, impossible to mold into patties. They still tasted good after cooked, but they were a little flat and thin because of this. When I used a 1:1 ratio, the arepas turned out much better.

    For the commenters above, I found “masa harina” in my local Fiesta supermarket. Do note that I’m in Texas where there are many *many* more Mexican immigrants than Colombian or Venezuelan ones, so the precooked corn flour is marketed for tamales and tortillas, but this stuff worked great for arepas.

    Also, arepas with plain white cheese “queso blanco/fresco” and drizzled honey are DIVINE. Try it!

    Thanks again for the great recipe!

  4. Trevor – I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. Most likely the reason your arepa batter turned out soupy was because you used masa harina instead of the white masa I typically use. It’s a little different product so I’m sure the consistency and taste were a little different. I’m glad they turned out great! I’ll have to try the arepas drizzled with honey next time. Sounds great.

  5. I loved the arepas that my Grandmother would make when I was a teen. I tried to replicate it and they were always missing something. I will try this recipe out I like the versitality to add different stuffings.We Puerto Ricans also make them but different, they’re sweet. I found another recipe on topuertorico.org there really good with cinnamon and sugar like abuelas. I’ve gone to “Festivales” here in Chicago and the arepas I’ve tried are sweet and seem to have yellow american cheese in the middle they’re sooo good! I believe there the Columbian version though.

  6. Yes, the arepas made with yellow cornmeal seem sweeter to me.. Perhaps that’s what they have in Chicago?

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