Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Arepas with Black Beans and Guasacaca

In case you were wondering, I am not an edible arrangement kind of person.  If you did gift me one, I wouldn't be mad.  I would probably think  you read this and were playing a joke on me.  But then there is a chance that you were being serious, in which case, I probably would just pretend I liked it.  But honestly, I think that is the most ridiculous successful business out there.  I don't like my food to be shaped into objects.  Plus, those arrangements are weird.

Speaking of gifts, this was Scot's birthday dinner this year.  After returning from a trip to Puerto Rico, we were inspired to have a latin-ish meal.  Yes, I know arepas and tamales are not Puerto Rican.  But the whole time we were in Puerto Rico, Scot kept expressing his desire for corn based goodies.

I don't recommend this particular menu unless you want to be in the kitchen for 10 hours and eat dinner at 11 pm.  But it was delicious.  In addition, I made some cupcakes:

They were ridiculously good.  I used this recipe from smitten kitchen.  I did 1/3 of the cake recipe, and halved the marshmallow filling and chocolate ganache.  It was the perfect amount for 12 cupcakes.  These photos were taken right after I filled and frosted them.  But they taste best if they are refrigerated and the ganache hardens.  I should say: they taste AMAZING after that happens.  The best way to fill is to cut out a little piece out of the top and put in some of the marshmallow filling (or even better, use a piping bag).  Then spoon over some ganache, chill and serve.  I also tried filling with ganache and topping with the marshmallow frosting, but I prefer the opposite way.  The last change I made was I used all bittersweet chocolate.  This was for Scot after all.

Yes, these are basically hostess cupcakes that take two hours to make.

Back to the arepas.  Scot did say, "this is my favorite thing I have ever eaten".  I am pretty sure that isn't the first time he has said that.  If you have never gotten the opportunity to try arepas at a Venezuelan/Colombian restaurant or in SA, you must make these at home.  They really aren't hard to make.  The arepa itself is incredibly straight forward and simple.  With the sauce and the filling, it is a lot of different things going on, but each component individually is very easy.  Also, the guasacaca sauce can be made ahead of time.  And arepas can be filled with whatever you want: meat (shredded, cubed), any cheese, seafood, beans, a chicken salad type thing, chiles, sweet potatoes, plantains, etc.

Arepas with Black Beans and Guasacaca
adapted from use real butter

2 cups harina PAN
2 1/2 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

2-3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
more oil for cooking
avocado, sliced

14.5 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp of pureed chipotles in adobo
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

guasacaca (see below)

Place the harina in a large bowl and add the warm water, salt, and vegetable oil (we used 3 tablespoons). Gently fold the mixture together until the moisture is roughly evenly distributed. Set the dough aside for at least ten minutes. The longer, the better. Meanwhile you can make the guasacaca (see below). When the dough has sat long enough, mix it together with your hands and moosh out any lumps between your fingers. Make sure it is uniformly mixed. Begin to form patties approximately 1/2-inch thick and 4-5 inches in diameter. You want them to have a uniform surface (avoid cracks) and to be relatively even in thickness. Using a paper towel or brush, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil on a flat pan like a cast iron skillet or something flat (NOT a non-stick pan). Set over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, place a few patties (like 3 or however many will fit without crowding) on the surface. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your heat and pan) until the bottoms begin to crackle and pop. Check the bottoms for doneness – when they are lightly golden, flip them over. After another 5 to 10 minutes, check the bottoms for doneness. They should be lightly golden and when you tap the arepa, it should be slightly springy. Remove from heat. If you are making a lot, you can keep the cooked arepas in a baking dish in a low oven (like 250°F) until you are ready to serve.   This recipe makes 6 five-inch arepas. 

In the mean time, place the black beans, pureed chipotles in adobo, salt, pepper and some water in a wide skillet over medium high heat.  Cook until all the water evaporates and until beans reach desired texture.  Add water and repeat as need.  Taste and adjust seasonings. 

Slice the top half of an arepa open along the seam with a butter knife. Carefully scrape out some of the moist filling from the entire interior (you can save it to eat later with butter). When the arepa is hollowed out, fill it with avocado, black beans, cheese, and guasacaca.

(Servings: 6, Prep time: 45 min., Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty: Easy)

Guasacaca (guacamole salsa)

1 onion, peeled, topped, and cut into eighths

1 avocado, peeled and pitted

2-3 tablespoons of white or rice wine vinegar (more if necessary)

1 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and cored

2 cups fresh parsley

2 cups fresh cilantro
salt to taste

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Place the onion, avocado, vinegar, garlic, and jalapeño in a blender (or food processor) and purée until smooth. Add the parsley and cilantro and purée until smooth. If it is too dry and won’t blend, add more vinegar and push it toward the blade with a spoon or a spatula between pulses. Add salt to taste and then add the oil last.

Printable Version

foodforscot Ratings:

Shanon (taste):  9/10
Scot (taste):  10/10
Effort:  5/5
Dishwashing Effort:  5/5


  1. yum yum yum yum, yum yum yum yum ... ya know

    1. im so glad i have a blog so i can tell you how your birthday dinner was. what has this world come to. i love this world.