Arepas with Shredded Beef

Arepas (Venezuelan corn cakes)

Active time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Arepa flour—Harina Pan, Masarepa (do not use Masa Harina)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil

 Preparation

Preheat oven to 375˚ F.

In a bowl, mix water, salt, and canola oil. Pour in flour slowly and mix with a spoon until ingredients have incorporated. Let it stand for 5-7 minutes. Gather dough forming a ball, place it on a board or clean surface, and knead with hands for about 5 minutes; make sure to moisten your hands as you work with the dough. Break dough into 8 equal-sized portions and form balls with your hands, and then flatten slightly with palms to form discs.

Brush a little canola oil on a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook arepas on each side until a thin crust has formed and some light browning appears in the center of the arepa (just like the picture below!). You may have to do this in batches.

Transfer arepas to oven, directly on the shelf (or on baking sheet, if desired) and bake for 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Arepas can be sliced in half to create pockets; these can be stuffed with beef, cheese, cured meats, beans, and even veggies!

Note: Plain arepas are naturally Vegan, wheat-free,  gluten-free

Carne Mechada 

Active time: 35 minutes

Although this beef is traditionally cooked first, shredded by hand and then seasoned with a sofrito, my slow-cooked recipe has just as great results and a lot less labor. I actually let it cook overnight, which is a great help for someone that cooks all day! This tastes even better after a day so store some in the refrigerator for later.

Ingredients

  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  •  1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 lbs beef skirt or flank steak, trimmed
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 large green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
  • 2 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 6-oz can organic tomato paste diluted in 1 cup water

Preparation

Preheat oven at 400˚ F.

In a small bowl, combine cumin, curry, and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Whisk together.

Drizzle marinade over meat and, using hands, spread all over.

Heat canola oil on a cast-iron pot or Dutch oven (with a lid) over high heat. Sear beef until golden brown on both sides. Remove from pot and set aside; keep the pot on the heat.

Reduce heat to medium-high. Add sliced onions to pot and cook for 6-8 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic, peppers, celery; stir for a couple of minutes. Return beef to pot, placing on top of vegetables; add tomatoes and cover with tomato paste mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle a little olive oil and cover with lid.

Place covered pot in the oven and reduce heat to 225˚ F. Let it cook for 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Remove from oven and let it stand for at least 10 minutes. Using a fork or two, break beef apart completely until you see thin strands incorporating with the sauce and vegetables.

Use shredded beef to stuff arepas or serve it with rice, black beans, and fried plantains–just like the Venezuelan National Dish! :)

4 thoughts on “Arepas with Shredded Beef

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