If you have never heard of an arepa before, well, let me introduce you to this wonderful new thing. An arepa is probably one of the simplest things to make, and it is basically masa, water, a bit of salt, and a bit of oil, and once mixed, and formed into a biscuit like shape, it is then cooked, slit open, and stuffed. One of the things I love about the arepa is that once it is cooked and slit open, the possibilites are endless as to what you want to stuff inside them. Not only that, but they are super simple to make, extremely comforting, and they also introduce you to masa, which is commonly used to make tortillas, tamales, gorditas, and much more.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]
- 1 1/2 cup of masa harina
- 1 1/2 cup of warm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup of Deli ham, thinly sliced and chopped, per arepa
- 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, per arepa
- Your favorite hot sauce
Begin by adding the masa harina and salt to a small mixing bowl, and mix it around with your fingers. Next add the water, and begin mixing, and kneading until the dough comes together. Continue kneading the dough until it forms a smooth dough, and no longer is sticky. At this point in time you can add a bit more masa harina if it is too sticky, or a bit more water if it is too dry. You basically want to form a medium sized ball that you can flatten down a bit, about a 1/2 inch thick by the width of your palm, approximately 3 inches.
Continue this process until you have formed all of the arepas.
Next, heat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat. The goal is to use a heavy skillet that can retain really good heat. Add the oil and swirl it in the pan. Add the arepas to the heated oil and let them cook for 4 minutes on each side. You want a golden exterior on both sides.
During this time, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
When the arepas as golden on each side, add them to a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
With a sharp knife, make an incision in the side of the arepa, cutting through the arepa, making an opening. The goal is to not slice this all of the way through, just a nice incision that will allow you to stuff them with the ham and cheese.
If you notice the knife is doughy, much like you would see when you pull a knife from cooking a cake or bread, place them back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so.
Next, stuff a bit of the cheese inside of the arepa, then some ham, then more cheese on the top of the ham. Place them back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted.
When you are ready to serve, plate them, and serve with a simple salad and a nice drizzle of hot sauce.
The end result is nothing but awesomeness. You have a crunchy exterior with a soft interior, the fresh aroma from the masa, and with the melted cheese and ham, well, you know where I’m going. Give them a shot, and I hope you enjoy.
Note: I also served these with roasted chicken, cheese, and guacamole, but once again the creations are endless as to what you put inside of them.