Arepas con carne mechada
The arepa is the typical flatbread of Venezuela. Arepas are made from a dough of white cornflour, water, salt and a bit of oil, then cooked on the "budare", a sort of big cast iron pan. They could be made also with yellow cornflour, but in that case they are named "arepas amarillas". Arepas are simple and fast to make; they substitute bread or can be a whole meal: in fact, you can fill them with everything you want. Now we are going to propose a typical filling of Venezuela, "carne mechada" (shredded beef). Otherwise, you can stuff them with ham and cheese or, for example, a filling made of roasted chicken, onion, garlic, avocado, lime, mayonnaise (these arepas are called "reina pepiada"). To make arepas you need a particular flour: this is "Harina P.A.N" (patented brand of Venezuela since 1954) precooked white cornflour that you can easily find in ethnic food shops.
- 300 g white cornmeal
- 375 g water
- 1 teasp sea salt
- a drizzle of oil
- 500 g beef skirt
- 2 carrots
- 2 onions
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tomato
- half red capsicum
- 1 tablesp. fresh coriander
- 1 tabsp. fresh parsley
- 1 teasp cumins seeds
- 2 tabsp tomato puree diluted in half glass of water or the same quantity of tomato sauce
- sea salt
- maiz oil to taste
- tabasco sauce
Level of difficulty Average
Cost Average budget
Make the broth using one litre of water, the meat, one carrot, one onion and two celery stalks (see related recipe here). Cook in a pressure pot for an hour. You will need about 800 grams of broth to make "carne mechada". Choose a beef cut with long fibres (the best cut to buy is skirt), because you'll later have to pull long strands out of the boiled meat.
Let's make the arepas. Knead the flour together with sea salt, a bit of oil (about 1 tablespoon); add water a bit at a time until you'll get a soft, no sticking dough. Cover with cling film and let it rest for half an hour at least.
When the meat is ready, keep the broth apart, take the meat shred it into thin strands with your hands (see the picture above). You can also boil the beef the day before you make the "carne mechada": it will be easier to shred it.
Chop all vegetables into little squares, finely chop garlic and onion. In a large pan place two tablespoons oil, garlic and the onion and make them cook over low heat for about two minutes. Then add carrot, bell pepper and make them braise for five minutes (add a bit of water to braise the vegetables). Finally add the shredded meat and tomato sauce; mix everything well. Go on simmering for half an hour adding to the meet a cup of broth at a time (you will need about 800 g of broth). Add salt to taste while simmering. Finally add fresh chopped parsley and coriander, mixing well. Keep the "carne mechada" in a warm place.
While the meat is cooking, you can make the arepas. Take a handful of dough in your hand and shape some little balls weighing about 60 grams each one.
Then press to form a sort of patty of about 10/12 cm each one (5 mm height).
Warm up an iron skillet or a regular non sticking frying pan. Place the cornflour patties into the very hot pan: cook for about 20 minutes, turning the arepa every five minutes (low the heat after first turning). As arepas are done, put them on a plate and cover with a kitchen towel.
Now arepas and "carne mechada" are both on the table. Take one arepa, slice it lengthwise and fill with abundant meat. If you like it, season with Tabasco sauce.
Did you like our arepitas with carne mechada? Yes? Well, we will soon make "empanadas" for you, to fill with "carne mechada" as well as "caraotas negras". Are you wondering what they are? Stay tuned....
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Chef Tips and Tricks
Did you know you can toast sweet potato slices... and it's absolutely delicious!
- Slice an avocado in half.
- In a bowl, combine avocado with half an onion (diced) and coriander.
- Add the juice from half a lemon and some salt, and mix.
- Cut a sweet potato into 1/2 inch slices.
- Place in a toaster, making sure to toast both sides.
- Spread the avocado mix onto the toast. Enjoy!