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Recipe: Colombian Arepas

This gourmet dish combines dehydrated ground beef, fresh cherry tomatoes, and arepa flour for a protein-filled meal.
august 2010 recipes arepas 445x260Colombian Arepas (Justin Bailie)

1 cup arepa flour
2 ounces dehydrated, precooked ground beef*
2 ounces of freeze-dried, mixed bell peppers*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 white onion
1 clove garlic
1 pint cherry tomatoes (or freeze-dried salsa)
2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
salt and pepper

At home
Mix arepa flour and a pinch of salt in a quart-size zip-top bag. Pack oil in a spillproof container. Keep cherry tomatoes in their original plastic container. Mix spices in a zip-top bag.

In camp
To make arepas (aka cornmeal patties), add 1 cup of water to the bag of arepa flour and whisk to make a dough. Seal bag and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop onion, mince garlic, and halve the cherry tomatoes. Boil 12 ounces of water, and use half to rehydrate the ground beef and half to rehydrate the peppers. Set both aside for 5 minutes, then drain.

When the dough is ready, form it into patties 3 to 4 inches across and a half-inch thick, using your fingers to smooth any cracks on the edges. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a pan, and fry the arepas in batches—about 3 minutes per side, or until the crust turns golden. Between batches, add oil if needed (1 tablespoon at a time) to keep arepas from sticking to the pan. When all the patties have been cooked, add the final tablespoon of oil to the pan, along with onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Sauté at medium-high heat until the onion softens (about 3 minutes), then add the beef, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Sauté until the beef is heated through (about 3 minutes) and the tomato has softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve the beef mixture over the arepas. If there are any leftover patties, drizzle them with honey for a sweet finale.

Note: Arepa flour is precooked corn flour and shouldn’t be confused with masa harina, which is uncooked. Find arepa flour (aka masarepa or harina precocida) at Hispanic groceries or at amigofoods.com.

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