Colombian Arepes de Queso

Lately, I have been busy at work and only heard the sad news about Chris Kimball’s departure from ATK today. He has always been the driving force behind the magazine (and later the TV shows), and I remember appreciating his methodology the first time I saw Cook’s Illustrated in 1994. While I guess this has been brewing for a few months (since summer), I never imagined that it would come to this. I know companies like to think that nobody is indispensable, but that opinion is often more of a hope than a reality. I guess we have to wait for a few months to find out about Chris Kimball’s “future endeavors”. I hope it is just a change in venue, and that I will be able to continue to cook his recipes for many years to come. The news is sad.

I first ate Arepas 20 years ago while biking through Colombia, and loved their simple deliciousness. Years later I read about stuffed arepas (which tend to be from Venezuela). Today, after 20 years, was my first time making arepas on my own.  This morning’s recipe does not come from ATK or Chris Kimball at all. It is thanks to a recent trip to Miami that I was able to buy “Pre-Cooked Corn Meal”. My technique still needs honing, but they came out delicious for a first try.

Comments:

  1. Cook’s Illustrated has a description about the different types of Corn Meal here, The bottom-line is make sure that the bag says it is for arepas. Masa harina is a completely different product. The brand that I pictured is apparently the most popular.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $2.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 10:00 AM. End time: 11:00 PM.

Chris Kimball does not have a recipe for arepas. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

2 cups water
2 cups masarepa flour (12 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted or softened butter
8 to 10 slices of Muenster cheese (Today I used grated mozzarella with a little shredded Parmesan)

  1. Soften butter in microwave for between 30 to 40 seconds.
  2. Add water to a large mixing bowl, mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt until dissolved. Slowly add in arepa flour until just comes together. Stir butter into dough and knead until evenly combined. Cover masa (dough) with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Divide you dough into 8 equal parts. I used a scale and measured 3-1/2 ounces per arepa.
  4. Working with one arepa at a time, roll into a ball and gradually work into a flatten disk; fixing the edges as they break. Put between two sheets of plastic and use the curvature of your cupped hands to form perfect disks. Press a second small cutting down on top of arepa to evenly flatten to approximately 5-inches across. Use cupped hands to fix any of the edges. Set aside and put plastic wrap between the arepas as you stack them.
  5. Pre-heat your griddle or large skillet over medium-high burner. Flick water onto the griddle and it will be ready when the water “dances”
  6. Cook on dry griddle (without any oil whatsoever) for 12 to 15 minutes without moving until slightly browned on the first side (see photo). Flip and top with cheese (which will slowly melt). Cook the second side for between 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately, or keep in a warm (but turned off oven) if you need to make them in batches.
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2 Responses to Colombian Arepes de Queso

  1. Gina F. says:

    Chris leaving is another sign that it’s not the company I once loved dearly. When they shut down their old message board, it felt like a close friend left town. I follow “The Feed,” but rarely do I find it engaging. I miss the days of Kenji chiming in with his thoughts on the message board. (I follow his writings much more than I do CI’s today.) I much prefer the writings of “real people,” like your blog versus the corporate writings of CI. I always look forward to your posts. Keep them coming.

  2. YRKS says:

    I just learned about CK myself and am stunned. He is so intertwined with the DNA of the organization, I just can’t fathom the logic of letting him go. Reading between the lines, it’s clear corporate leadership wants to go in a different direction and was unwilling to let his vision set the tone, but what a tacky closing chapter to CKs contributions/creation of the business. I don’t kid myself that they will lose much business, ATK is a robust creation, but it still leaves an unpleasant taste in my mouth.

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