South America, like Mexico, has so many amazing regions and cultures, each using different ingredients and techniques, but are all still connected within their diverse cooking styles. The overlap may be apparent in many ways, but the nuances of every culture stand out as well. Many think that Mexican and South American food is all the same, but the flavor profiles and indigenous influences vary from region to region, even within a country. I love taking classic South American recipes, whether that is Argentinian, Peruvian, Venezuelan or Brazilian and incorporating the Mexican style I was raised with, to create a sort of collaboration of cultures.
One of my favorite examples, is my recipe for Beef Chorizo and Panela Arepas. Here I use quality and authentic Mexican ingredients, like Cacique’s chorizo and cheeses, to really bring out the Mexican flavors in a traditionally Venezuelan dish.
The first ingredient, masa, is a Mexican staple and similar to the corn meal used for arepas. I can still vividly remember watching my grandmother mixing masa with salt and hot water to create dough. I’m also using Cacique’s beef chorizo for this dish. Chorizo is a spin off the original Spanish pork sausage made with smoked paprika, which Mexicans substituted with native chili peppers and beef. The combination of the smoky chorizo and the creaminess of the panela and crema really make this a slam dunk recipe (if I do say so myself!)
When traditions move from one region to another, they evolve. And this is so fascinating in food because recipes and dishes change due to the available ingredients in that area. When you are cooking at home, don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and techniques, you might stumble across something you and your family would love to eat time and time again!
Note: Click the ‘Products‘ tab above to learn more about the Cacique® ingredients used in this recipe. You can find these ingredients near you by clicking the ‘Find Stores‘ tab, selecting the products you are looking for, and entering your zip code.
HOW TO MAKE IT
- In a medium bowl, combine the masa arepa, salt and hot water. Stir to combine until there are no lumps left. Cover the bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. While the dough rests, fry the Beef Chorizo in a skillet over medium heat, breaking it up as you cook, until cooked through, approximately 5-7 minutes. Spoon into a bowl and set as ide. Wipe out the skillet.
- To make the arepas, divide the dough into 8 parts and form it into balls. Using your hands, press each ball to make a flat disk 4 inches in diameter. Put 2 tablespoons of oil into the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the arepas, in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden and crispy, flipping once. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. When they’re cool enough to handle, use a small knife to cut a pocket in each. Fill the arepas with the Beef Chorizo and crumbled Panela, drizzle with the Crema, and serve warm.