Stuffed corn cakes, or arepas, are a popular street food in South America. They have recently become popular in the US, and a few months ago, they even made an appearance on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Joey and I always enjoy watching Throwdown. In case you aren't familiar with the premise, Chef Bobby Flay challenges the "best of the best" with their signature dish. He has a few days to perfect his version of it, and is then judged by a panel. Its always neat to see local favorites doing what they love, and its funny to watch a celebrity chef flounder a bit.
Anyway, a few months ago we saw an episode in which Flay threwdown with arepas, and Joey and I both commented that the dish looked great. When I saw this recipe in America's Test Kitchen, I knew I had to give it a try.
These were fairly easy to put together. I always get a little nervous when I work with dough, even though these cakes were very simple. My only issue is that they didn't seem to puff up as much as I expected, but maybe that's just the recipe. They were a little denser than I expected is all. I also should have cooked them maybe 1 minute longer, as the very center was still a little soft. Overall this was a very satisfying dinner. We all absolutely loved the filling though. I could have eaten the entire bowl by the spoonful!
Venezuelan Corn Cakes with Chicken and Avocado Filling
source: America's Test Kitchen
- 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded into bite size pieces
- 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into small chunks
- 2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 2 scallions, sliced thin
- juice of half a lime
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
- 2 cups masarepa blanca (precooked corn flour - white corn meal can be subbed)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Whisk the masarepa, salt, and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Gradually add the water and stir to form a dough. Using a generous 1/3 cup of dough, form eight 3-inch rounds, each about 1/2 inch thick.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until simmering. Add 4 of the corn cakes and cook until golden on both sides, about 4-6 minutes total. Transfer to a parchement lined baking sheet, and repeat with remaining oil and corn cakes.
Bake until the corn cakes sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 10-15 minutes. Split the cakes open using a fork or paring knife as you would an English muffin, and stuff each with a generous 3 Tablspoons of filling. Serve immediately.