September 28, 2017

Sandwich of the Week: Corn to Be Wild

Our SoTW this week is inspired by the delicious arepas from Arepazo in Columbus, Ohio. If you didn’t listen to our interview with owner and founder, Carlos, please do so now. Throughout the interview, Carlos gave a few pointers for the perfect arepa, and since he made them sound so simple and easy — we thought we’d give it a try!

What You’ll Need

  • P.A.N (see below)
  • salt
  • water
  • chicken breasts
  • salsa
  • spices
  • queso fresco or other desired cheese(s)
  • avocado
  • hot sauce (optional)

The Dough

We used a very specific type of corn flour for these arepas, gifted to us by Carlos himself. It’s called P.A.N. and it’s a pre-cooked white cornmeal.

P.A.N. white corn flour

To prepare the dough, you mix 2.5 cups of water with 2 cups of P.A.N. and a teaspoon of salt. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the water in a container (and find out you don’t have big enough mixing bowls and add them to your Christmas list). Knead the mixture together to form a smooth dough and let it rest for a few minutes.

These proportions make 10 arepas. Separate accordingly and shape portions into a ball before flattening into tiny patties of wonder (the P.A.N. bag says large patties, maybe we made mini arepas??).

arepa patties!

After you’ve created the arepa patties, you’ll throw them on a griddle or in a frying pan with the SMALLEST amount of oil to make sure they don’t stick. Cook for 5 minutes on each side until they’re a lovely golden brown or until you get so hungry you just can’t take it anymore!

fried arepas

Slice the arepas open and fill with your choice of meats, cheeses, and veggies. We chose shredded chicken (recipe below), queso fresco, and some avocado. Splash on some habanero hot sauce for a taste of the wild side. Serve fresh & hot immediately after filling for best results.

The Chicken

  • 2-3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar hot salsa
  • spices to taste

This shredded chicken is the easiest recipe I use consistently. You take some chicken, throw it in a slow cooker, dump some salsa and spices on it, put some water for moisture, and let that baby GO (4-6 hours on high). Like I mentioned in our episode, I “accidentally” made three pounds of this stuff. I think I usually make 2ish pounds, but all you’ll need is a little more of everything. P.S. I never measure ANYTHING.

I bought regular skinless boneless chicken breasts and threw them in whole after trimming some fat. I also used a jar of store brand hot salsa (the key is to use cheap salsa here, as you’ll be using a lot of it and can top your arepa/taco/burrito with better salsa later on). After dumping some extra cayenne, coriander, cumin, and pepper on top, I mixed with a small amount of water so the breasts wouldn’t dry out.

After the 4-6 hours (let’s be honest, it’s going to be 4 hours), take two forks and shred the meat in the juices. It may seem a little wet, but you’re going to let the shredded meat sit for a little bit to reabsorb some of that moisture. After you’ve waited and the batch has thickened, you’re ready to eat!

Top with your sliced avocado and crumbled queso fresco and you have a classic Venezuelan comfort food.

If this all sounds like far too much work for you, do yourself a favor and check out Arepazo in the Brewery District, Downtown Columbus, or Gahanna locations for some mouthwatering tapas, arepas, and more amazing food.

Thanks for cooking with us!
– Lindsay