My last outing with masa harina involved these delicious tamales. I have to admit that I haven't made them again since, but after rediscovering its wonder in this recipe, I plan to put them back on the menu right quick.
In the meantime, these beautiful fried arepas are a wonderful treat that highlights the distinct flavor of masa harina that I really love. Arepas are a Mexican cornmeal patty filled with any variety of ingredients. In this case, I used leftover chicken. The original recipe calls for roast pork, or you could use a rotisserie chicken. The tangy slaw topping is essential and with nothing more than red wine vinegar, aids a nice fresh crunchy texture to the meal. Be sure to make it early in the game so the flavors have time to meld as you form the arepas.
Chicken and Cheese Arepas
Adapted from Food & Wine
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 pound cooked chicken, shredded
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Hot sauce, for seasoning
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sliced pickled jalapeños, cilantro and sour cream, for serving
In a bowl, mix the masa harina, water and 1 teaspoon of salt to form a soft dough. Form into a ball and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, toss the cabbage, onion and vinegar. Season with salt.
In a small bowl, combine the pork and cheddar and season with salt and hot sauce. (I used Sriracha.) Form the pork filling into 4 compact balls.
Form the dough into 4 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
Working with one dough ball at a time, use your fingertips to gently flatten it on a sheet of plastic wrap to a 7-inch round. Place a pork filling ball in the center of the dough. Use the plastic wrap to push the dough up to cover the filling, working your way around the ball in a circle. Gently flatten the ball into a 4-inch patty and patch any holes or tears. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering. Add the arepas and fry, turning once, until golden, crisp and heated through, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer to plates. Using a slotted spoon, mound the cabbage slaw on top of the arepas and serve with jalapeños, cilantro and sour cream.