Saturday, October 15, 2011

Arepas stuffed with Chipotle Lime Shredded Chicken

This is a delicious shredded chicken  that can be served in tortillas, in a taco salad, on a toasted sub bun, so many possibilities!
The warmth of the chipotle can be increased if you desire a hotter chicken, and is offset by a wonderful subtle sweetness given by the honey that should also be increased a bit if you increase the heat.
Make the day before a potluck, or freeze for quick lunches!

I'm sure you could make this in a crockpot too, but I don't have a crockpot now, so can't tell you what the heat and time would be on this. If you make this in a crock, feel free to drop me a note and I'll add the heat and cook time to this, crediting you, of course.

You can use the Mexican cheese, cotija, but I served this on arepas with avacado and feta cheese. The tangy-ness of the feta went SO well with the sweet heat of the chicken, and was easier on my wallet. I'll include the arepa recipe below.

I'm getting hungry, so on with the recipe!
  • 5 lbs chicken leg quarters
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced purple onion
  • 1 (4 oz) can LaPreferida roasted green chilies (found in ethnic foods or Mexican isle, look for a small red and white label. About a dollar and SO good!)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded & deveined, unless you prefer very hot foods :)
  • 1/2 chipotle, with its sauce, chopped (small cans of chipotles can be found next to the green chilies, freeze the rest of the chipotles and sauce for a quick flavor and heat boost to many dishes)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • juice from 2 REAL (lol please don't use the bitter bottled stuff) limes (about 3-4 Tablespoons)
Season chicken on both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder. In a large pot with lid, or dutch oven, brown chicken on both sides, in a little vegetable or olive oil.

When chicken is browned, remove from pan and set aside.
Add onion and jalapeno. Reduce heat to medium heat. Cook and stir about 2 or 3 minutes, then add the can of chilies, chipotle and sauce, and tomato paste. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook and stir a minute or two and add crushed tomatoes, seasonings, bay leaf, honey, and salt and pepper to taste, and lime juice.

Reduce heat to a low simmer, and add chicken back into the pan, stirring them around so all the chicken gets a coating of sauce.

Cover and cook 30-45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and practically falling off the bone. Remove chicken to a plate to cool to the touch so you can pick the meat off the bone and shred.

Add cooked chicken back to sauce and, leaving the lid off, cook and stir over a very low heat while you prepare tortillas, or arepas, or the rest of your meal.

Arepas are to South America what english muffins are to North America. Sort of.
They're wonderful little pockets of yumminess almost the size of an english muffin and can be filled with just about anything you like.
They're made of a gluten-free precooked white cornmeal that is ground very fine into a flour. It's found in the ethnic isle of a grocery store or a Mexican/Latino grocery, and is no more expensive than regular white flour. Common names are P.A.N, masarepa, harina precocida, but NOT to be confused with masa harina
, that is used for corn tortillas.

I LOVE these as an alternative to tortillas. They're yummy like a tortilla, but easier to make and have a crunchy exterior, but a soft interior and split easily apart much like english muffins. Fill them with egg, ham and cheese for a quick breakfast, a variety of meats and cheeses for snacks, lunches, or paired with soup and salad for a complete meal.

To get a better feel of how to make these, visit youtube and look up arepas. There are tons of videos to show you how to make them.  Don't be intimidated, they're easy as heck once you get your heat and grease just so. Much like pancakes, the first one or two might not turn out until you get the heat and grease "just so". 

I don't find these do too well in a dry pan like tortillas, they need some kind of help. So you can use the spray stuff, margarine or butter.  I don't recommend  butter or olive oil as these may burn in the medium-high heat needed to cook the arepas. 

I'm getting hungry typing about these! Let's get to the recipe!

To get started, you'll need:
  • large frying pan or griddle
  • 1 cup masarepa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup hot water
  • butter or vegetable oil for frying
Masarepa flour will have directions on the back, but what they don't tell you is the water should be HOT tap water, not warm or lukewarm.

Put hot water in medium bowl FIRST (they don't tell you this either), then add the masarepa and salt. Using your hands, mix it until you get a nice, pliable dough. This is where videos come in handy! Form a ball, and using your palms, slap into an english muffin size, but a bit thinner than an english muffin.

Put a dab of margarine or oil in a pan or griddle preheated over medium-high heat, and set the arepas in it and move them about a bit, so they all have a bit of butter under them.

Cook 5 minutes. They'll be a nice, golden  brown, with darker spots. Flip, adding more butter or oil as needed, and cook 5 more minutes until done. When done, they'll have a hollow sound when you tap on them.

Remove from heat onto paper towels, and cool to the touch. Slid a thin knife into the side of them to open up a little pocket like with a pita.

This recipe makes 6-8, depending on size.
Fill as you desire! so yummy.  These can be made ahead of time, and once cooled, wrapped in foil and refrigerated. Warm up in the oven, or hot pan, to crisp up.  I haven't tried putting them into a toaster to reheat and crisp, but I'm thinking that might work too!

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