I am happy to say that through the movie “Encanto” finally people are learning about Colombian arepa con queso, a gluten-free flatbread made from corn and filled with lots of cheese. So today I am going to present my version of this Colombian staple to you. Arepas are a popular dish in Colombia, you will find many different versions, thick, thin, crispy, with fillings (such as cheese or egg) and at any time of the year. It can be served for breakfast, as a snack, as a side, or even as the main dish. I already introduced the basic recipe for arepas previously. Filled arepas are more common in Venezuela, I also have a recipe on my blog of filled arepas with chicken and guacamole. But today I am presenting arepas with cheese, because Colombians love anything with cheese. I may be mistaken, but arepas with cheese are probably the most popular kind of arepa and will usually be received with excitement.
For a long time my arepas happened to be too dry. I thought I had used enough water, but slowly learned over time that you rather have a dough that is a bit too wet than too dry. My main tip for making arepas with queso successfully is using enough water so that you are rewarded with a soft arepa that has a crispy outside. As stated, there are many version of arepas, but this one is extra delicious because it contains cheese. Colombians will eat anything with cheese, even their beloved hot chocolate. So obviously arepas need to be filled with it as well.
Arepas con queso or corn flatbread with cheese
Arepas con queso or corn flatbread with cheese are a staple in the Colombian cuisine and are served for many occasions.
- 260 grams of pre-cooked cornmeal (in Latin America usually "masarepa" from the brand "Pan" is used, you can find it in Asian stores here in Germany)
- 1/2-1 teaspoon of salt
- 30 grams of butter plus more for frying
- 330 grams of cold water
- About 100 grams of grated mozzarella
In my Instagram reel you can see how I prepare them.
Combine cornflour, salt, butter cut in cubes and the cold water and first stir with a spoon. Knead with your hands for a few minutes. The dough should rather be soft and not dry. Depending on the flour you use and the weather, you may need to add more water. Let sit for five minutes, so that the flour can absorb the water.
Divide the dough into four equal parts and roll into balls. Create a whole in each one (see pictures or reel) and press in as much mozzarella as you can fit. Seal the ball and press flat with your hands. Make sure your arepas are flat and round, this is all done with your hands.
Melt some butter in a large frying pan and fry the arepas for five minutes on each side on medium heat or until golden. Serve warm. Colombians typically spread some further butter on it and salt it a bit. Traditionally arepas con queso are eaten for breakfast with freshly pressed juice and scrambled eggs (see photo).