Jordan had his eye on a Venezuelan restaurant in NYC a few weeks ago, but wasn’t able to make it. But his craving did not subside. I thought I would take a stab at that craving.
As with many other countries, colonization has left Venezuela with various cultures and cuisines. The cuisine varies greatly from region to region. Italian influences are strong, and Venezuelans eat more pasta than everywhere other than Italy–this surprised me. I thought Argentina would be number two.
I decided to proceed ahead with two dishes:
- Arepas (per the husband’s request) and
- Pabellón criollo–arguably Venezuela’s national dish.
The arepas were a bit time consuming, but I was happy to have put the time in to achieve the final result. The cornmeal dough was made into patties:
I wanted our arepas to be a bit thick, so that I could squeeze some sharp cheddar between the layers.
I pan-fried the arepas, just enough so that a crunchy crust was formed on the outsides. So, we live in a tiny apartment with no ventilation to speak of. And without a hood for the stove. Things got smoky with this pan-frying….
After the crust was formed, I tossed them into the oven to bake through. My final product was quite similar to the pictures I’d seen. I actually found some pre-made arepas in the frozen food section of the Hispanic Market I visited a couple weeks back. Glad I didn’t succumb. I think the cost of the cornmeal, salt, flour, etc. probably only totaled half the cost of the packaged version.
The sharp cheddar worked out just fine. Too fine. I loved it, even though it seemed a little greasy when melted.
See the pabellón criollo creeping in the background? Pabellón criollo typically consists of rice and beans, fried plantains, maybe a fried egg, and maybe some fish or chicken. Bet you can guess what’s in mine…
You might not be jealous, but you should be. This was an awesome meal. I was completely stuffed, but force-fed my second arepa down because it tasted so good. And I could not leave any plantain slices.
Venezuelans, I do not buy that your president, Mr. Chavez, was at the Nativity. But maybe the Virgin Mary was craving something like this meal during her pregnancy.