Every Wednesday morning I check out Dining & Wine in the Times online for Mark Bittman's latest video. If you can get past his current goofy opening footage he usually demonstrates something you'll want to try. Today it was something I had never made (or eaten) before: Arepas!
They're little corn pancakes & when they're cooled you can cut them in half & make a sandwich with them. The problem is they're too good hot out of the pan. Who wants to wait until they're cool?
Here's the recipe:
1 cup fine corn meal (I used masa.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup grated cheddar or monterey jack cheese
1 cup milk
2 T. butter
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)
1 small jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded & minced (I had leftover roasted poblano so I used it)
3 T. neutral oil for frying (I used canola oil)
1. Put cornmeal in a large bowl with salt and cheese. Put milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steam rises, then add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir into cornmeal mixture until a thick batter is formed. Fold in the corn kernels, scallion, cilantro and chili if using. (Maybe it was the masa but my batter was very thick. I added some water to get the right consistency.)
2. Let batter rest until it thickens into a soft dough, about 15 minutes. Gently form 3- to 4-inch balls from mixture and flatten with palm of your hand to a 1/2-inch-thick disk. You can cover and refrigerate disks for a few hours if you like.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet and cook arepas, working in batches, until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3 minutes on other side. When all arepas are cooked and cool enough to handle, carefully slice them through the middle. If desired, serve with butter or stuff with beans, vegetables or sour cream.
( My first batch was too dark when I cooked them 5 minutes on the first side. I would suggest 3 minutes on the first side & 2 on the second. But it depends on your stove. )
Yield: 8 to 12 arepas.