Colombian Stuffed Corn Cakes (Arepas de Choclo)

Arepas de Choclo are around 3,000 years old. They were a staple of various indigenous tribes living in the area that is now Colombia and Venezuela. Initially served as daily corn masa bread eaten at all times of the day. It wasn’t until the 1950s that people began slicing them and stuffing them with all kinds of meats, cheeses, beans, and even fried eggs.

It wasn’t until the 1980s, though, that these griddle-cooked stuffed beauties made their way to New York city’s Little Italy with the help of NY’s Gambino crime family. NY writer Michael Harlan Turkell tells how Arepas went from a Venezuelan and Colombian staple to become a beloved New York City street food:

The story goes that Colombian immigrants named Luis and Flor Leon paid the family’s boss, John Gotti $1,000 for the privilege of selling their grilled Arepas de Choclo at the Feast of San Gennaro in New York’s Little Italy. Stuffed with melted mozzarella cheese instead of the traditional queso fresco, Arepas Rollenos (“filled corn cakes”) became an instant hit and have become a widely popular treat at the endless NY street fairs every spring and summer…thanks to the Gambino crime family.

Arepas de Choclo

These simple corn cakes are a wonderful addition to any dinner, lunch, or breakfast. They are not too different than Jamaican Johnny Cakes other than the myriad of filings Colombians, Venezuelans, and New Yorkers stuff them with,
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Course: Appetizer, Bread, Breakfast, Lunch, Street Food
Cuisine: Colombia, South American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Large skillet (not nonstick)

Ingredients

  • cups Warm water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Pre-cooked white corn meal (i.e. P.A.N.)
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil

Arepas with Black Beans and Guasacaca

  • 1 RECIPE Basic arepas dough
  • 14.5 oz Can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium Jalapeno pepper, stems, seeds & ribs removed, chopped
  • cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup Guasacaca salsa

Arepas con Huevo (Breakfast sandwich)

  • 1 RECIPE Basic arepas dough
  • 1 tbsp Butter, melted
  • 6 large Eggs

Instructions

Basic Arepas

  • Stir water, 2½ tbsp oil, and salt together in a bowl. Gradually stir corn meal into water and with your fingers, form a moist, soft ball.
    Divide dough into 8 golf ball-sized balls and pat-down into a ½-inch thick by 4-inch wide disk.
    Coat bottom of skillet with ½ tbsp oil and heat skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook patties until golden brown, 5+ minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and cool. Repeat process until all cooked.

Arepas with Black Beans and Guasacaca

  • Prepare basic Arepas as described above.
    Place black beans, salt, pepper, chopped jalapeno and a few tbsp water in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until water evaporated. Season to taste. If softer beans are desired, add more water and continue cooking until desired texture is reached.
    Slice off the top half of each arepa. and scoop out some of the interior. Fill with beans, cheese, and guasacaca. Serve with optional sliced avocado.

Arepas con Huevo – Corncake & Egg Breakfast Sandwich

  • Save 3 tbsp dough before cooking basic arepas from the recipe above. Slice 6 cooked arepas each almost in half, leaving about an inch on one side. Hollow out insides a bit to make room for the egg filling.
    Break an egg into a ramekin, add salt & pepper, and gently pour into the hollowed-out arepas. repeat. Seal each using the reserved dough. Heat ¼ cup oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add egg-filled arepas and cook until eggs are set as you like them, 2-4 minutes.
    Remove to paper towel lined plate, season to taste, and serve warm.

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