Happy Independence Day everyone (though I heard on NPR today that we should really be celebrating our independence on July 2nd, not the 4th)! I must say we've had an absolutely wonderful weekend and I'm sad it has to come to an end. Lots of lovely walks, bike rides, a picnic, and shopping for some magnificent produce at the farmer's market. Of course, enjoying good food was a big part of our weekend - who am I kidding it is a big part of everyday for us! We live to eat :).
Alfred is typically the weekday chef (I know I'm such a lucky girl!) but on the weekends I love to get in the kitchen - both because I love to cook and because I like to treat him to something extra special. This weekend he requested chicken tacos. I happily obliged, putting a little twist on the "taco" part by pairing saucy chipotle seasoned chicken with sauteed onions and bell pepper, guacamole, lots of shredded lettuce and arepas. Needless to say we departed quite a bit from the traditional 4th of July BBQ, our meal was more of a multi-cultural celebration!
This was my first time making arepas, and I'm happy to report they were both very easy and very tasty! In case you aren't familiar with arepas, they are a Colombian dish perhaps best described as a thick cornmeal patty cooked on a griddle - kind of like an extra thick corn tortilla. They are crunchy/chewy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Because they are rather thick, they are often split open and stuffed with various fillings including cheese and black beans. We didn't split ours, we just piled on the toppings and stuffed our faces!
Arepas hot off the griddle - come and get um!
My inspiration for making arepas came the last time I visited a Hispanic grocery store and by chance came across a bag of masarepa - the key ingredient in making arepas. If you don't have a Hispanic grocer in your area, you could also use masa harina - the key ingredient in making corn tortillas. Masa harina is available near the hispanic foods in just about every grocery store.
Now on to the recipes (enough for 2 hungry people):
Spicy and Saucy Chicken
1 large bone-in chicken breast, cooked and meat shredded
3/4 of a large onion quartered and sliced (save the other 1/4 of the onion for your guacamole)
1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
From a can of chipotles in adobo: 1/4 Cup Adobo sauce plus 2-3 chipotle peppers finely minced
1/2 Can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 teaspoon Ancho Chilli Powder
11/2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Ground Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
(**These spice amounts are all approximations, taste and add more if you need to)
Salt to taste
1) Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat, coat it with a little olive oil, add the onions and pepper, saute the veggies until the the onions are translucent
2) Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot, cover and let simmer over low heat while you prepare the arepas.
1 Cup Masarepa or Masa Harina
11/2 Cups Warm Water
1/2 teaspoon salt
*Sometimes cheese (up to 1 cup shredded) is mixed into the dough, since I don't eat dairy I skipped this
1) Combine all of the ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes (you can whip up the guacamole - recipe below - while you are waiting)
2) Form the dough into 8 patties about 1/2 inch thick.
3) Heat a non-stick griddle over medium heat, coat the griddle with a little olive oil (I used a pastry brush to just barely coat the pan - using butter would make these more authentic).
4) Working in batches, cook each of the patties 5-7 minutes per side, until they are golden brown.
1 Large Haas Avocado, flesh mashed
1/4 Onion, finely minced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely minced or pressed
Large handful of Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 small lime
Salt and Crushed Red Pepper to Taste
Thoroughly combine all ingredients, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Now put it all together:
Top the arepas with the chicken and/or guacamole, serve with plenty of crunchy shredded lettuce and enjoy the incredible yumminess of it all! This is meant to be enjoyed with your hands, so leave the forks in the kitchen and just dig in!
Enjoy the rest of your fourth! I'm pretty sure I'll be asleep before the fireworks start - I've become quite the old fuddy duddy :).
As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!