In the summer of 1982 I was an exchange student in Colombia. The experience changed my life, and introduced me to foods that a kid growing up in WI never had the chance to try. One of those foods was the Arepas Rellenas sandwich my host sisters and I used to get from a street vendor in downtown Cali. I don't know that I'd ever tried cilantro prior to my time in Colombia, but its flavor became something that takes me back to that blissful summer with my host family. The Arepas also feature the "criollo" sauce of Colombia--Hogao. I think the main reason I love this sandwich is because of the layers of flavor and texture that are combined (soft warm arepas, crunchy chicharonnes, etc). I've made the sandwich my own by incorporating the other memory-inducing ingredient of that summer--aguardiente.
1740 per serving
- 2 cups masarepa flour
- 2 cups water
- 1 dash apple cider vinegar
- 3 pinches salt
- 25 ounces flank steak
- 4 cups water
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 serrano chile, halved
- 4 garlic clove, halved
- 2 tablespoons beef bouillon
- 4 fluid ounces aguardiente
- 3 fluid ounces vegetable oil
- 3 ounces spanish onion, minced
- 3 ounces green onion, minced
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup vine ripened tomato, grated
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons aguardiente
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
- 3 garlic clove
- 1 cup curly leaf parsley
- 1 cup cilantro
- 2 ounces green onions
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon aguardiente
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 roma tomatoes, small dice
- 1 small onion, small dice
- 1 jalapeo pepper, minced
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 5 slices jalapeno havarti cheese, (can sub any peppered cheese)
- 6 ounces refried black beans
- 3 ounces chicharrones, (fried pork rinds)
- 2 roasted jalapeno, skinned, deseeded, julienned
- 3 ounces sour cream
Making the Arepa Dough
In a bowl, combine the masarepa and salt. Slowly add cold water and vinegar until dough begins to form. Continue to knead in the bowl until the dough has formed and feels like "PlayDough"... soft but not sticky. Form the dough into 10 equal sized balls and return them to the bowl, covered with plastic wrap until later.
Making the Chimichurri
In a blender or food processor, combine garlic, parsley, cilantro, green onions, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and aguardiente. Process or blend until the mixture is liquified and thoroughly emulsified. Set aside for sandwich assembly.
Making the Pico de Gallo
In a small bowl, combine the diced tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and oil. Season as needed with salt and pepper. Set aside, covered, until you're ready for sandwich assembly.
Making the Carne Desmechada (Shredded Flank Steak)
Season flank steak with salt and pepper. In a pressure cooker, sear flank steak, then add onions, garlic, serrano chiles, water, beef bouillon, and aguardiente. Cook in pressure cooker for 25-30 minutes. Release steam, remove steak and shred the meat. Set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid for use in the Hogao. You can also cook the carne in a slow cooker or in the oven but you will need to increase the cooking time to over 2 hours.
Making the Hogao
In a sauce pot, heat oil. Add onions, green onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Cook slowly, allowing all of the ingredients to become soft and the consistency to become "au sec" (almost dry). Add the aguardiente, the 1/2 cup liquid from the Carne, cumin, cilantro and salt and pepper. Stir and simmer until the sauce again becomes au sec. Add the shredded beef and set aside for sandwich assembly.
Making the Arepas
Using a silpat or plastic wrap, roll out 5 of the masarepa dough balls to 1/8" thick. Lay a slice of the pepper cheese in the center of each and fold the edges over to completely encase the cheese in dough. Roll out the remaining 5 dough balls to 1/4" thick. (They should all look like thick tortillas) On a skillet, griddle or grill top, cook the arepas for about 3 minutes per side until dark spots begin to appear. Be careful to not burn them... we are walking a fine line here making sure the arepas are crispy and browned but not scorched.
Assembling the Arepas Rellenas
On a plate, lay down one of the unstuffed arepas. Spread on a thin layer of refried black beans. Spoon on and spread out some of the carne and hogao. Top that with some gently crushed chicharrones. Add a few strips of the roasted jalapeno. Spoon on some pico de gallo and drizzle that with chimichurri sauce. Add a dollop of sour cream and top with the cheese-stuffed arepa. I like to garnish this with lime wedges and additional chicharonnes.