By Bryanne Salazar
My twelve year old son Jorge opened the bottle before I did. I came home from a long grocery shopping trip to his excited face telling me, "Oh Mom, you have to try this sauce! It's so good!"
He already had a corn tortilla ready for dippage. The sauce smelled and looked similar to a spicy tomatillo salsa. But the taste surprised me. It was robust and smooth, a perfect balance between the garlic and vinegar that carried the pepper from the green chiles.
My son was right, it was so good. So what could I do with an incredible Spicy Green hot sauce? Make Venezuelan arepas, of course.
Now you might be thinking, "What's an arepa?" and if you are, you're not alone. I first heard of them on a cooking show that combined delicious dining with world traveling. The host of the show oohed and aahed over the griddled maiz pita that was stuffed with various toppings like shredded meat or even seafood.
Always up for an adventure, I decided to look up the recipe for making arepas at home. The corn pita was amazingly simple. Water, salt, and precooked corn flour. I've made Mexican tamales for years to satisfy my husband's holiday cravings, and made the huge mistake of thinking masa harina, or Mexican lime treated corn flour would be the same thing. It wasn't and I made corn bricks. Yuck!
Instead, it's easy to visit any local Latin market in your area and ask for masa precocida or masarepa. I found that Goya, a well known Latin-foods producer sells both white and yellow masarepa that works perfectly for this recipe. So if you'd like to take a journey South with me, try this delicious, simple and surprising recipe for Venezuelan Arepas with spicy, creamy green chile shredded chicken and fresh tomatoes.
2 cups of masarepa or masa precocida (white or yellow are both fine)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of boiling water
1/4 oil for pan frying
1 & 1/2 cups of shredded chicken (I used 2 small chicken breasts, boiled and shredded)
1/2 bottle of Hot Licks® Spicy Green Hot Sauce
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 cup of shredded Mexican cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1 sweet ripe tomato, cut into thin slices
In a large mixing bowl, mix the masarepa with salt until well combined. Stir in 3 cups of boiling water and stir immediately with a wooden spoon until the mixture turns into a dough. Once it is completely mixed, remove the spoon and cover the mixture with a damp hand towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. The dampness in the towel helps prevent the masarepa mixture from drying out while it rests.
In a saucepan, add shredded chicken and Hot Licks® Spicy Green Hot Sauce. Bring to a simmer and then stir in sour cream, cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to heat through so the cheese melts and the mixture looks creamy. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan until it's time to stuff the arepas.
To make the arepas, heat your oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Using wet hands, break off large golf-ball sized pieces of dough and roll in your hands to form a smooth ball. Gently flatten the ball into a disk that is at least 1/4 inch thick. Depending on the size of your dough-balls, you can yield anywhere from 5-10 arepas. Fry the arepas in the oil for roughly 5 minutes per side, until they are golden and crisp. When cooked on both sides, remove and place on a paper towel to collect excess oil.
To stuff the arepas, use a knife to separate the cooked corn circles into two halves. Remove a little bit of the interior breading. If your chicken mixture is too runny, you can crumble the excess breading and mix it into the chicken to thicken.
Slather on a few nice spoonfuls of the spicy, creamy, green chile chicken onto one side of the arepas. Layer a few slices of thinly sliced tomatoes and some fresh cilantro. Put the other half of the arepa on top and serve like a sandwich!
Arepas can be served with any number of fillings. They are amazing with mayonnaise, Hot Licks® Spicy Green Hot Sauce, avocados and lunch meat too. Be creative! See what kind of fun you can have with Hot Licks® and Venezuelan arepas!
You can find this sauce and others at Hot Licks® Spicy Green Hot Sauce