Make delicious arepas with olive oil-fried eggs and salsa

Recipe for traditional breakfast dish

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SAN ANTONIO – Arepas, simple or complex corn cakes, are a Central and South-American (especially in Colombia) breakfast tradition, which have recently become very trendy in many parts of the U.S.

There are many variations, and this version has a great nubby texture and sensational flavor.

Arepas are generally fried in olive oil, so what better accompaniment than eggs fried in olive oil? This is a great dish for either breakfast or brunch. 

Make Ahead: The arepas may be prepared ahead through the stage of frying, then gently reheated in the oven prior to serving. The salsa can be made ahead of time. Fry the eggs and assemble the plates when ready to serve.

Serves 6

Salsa:
5 Roma tomatoes cut into small dice
3 Serrano chilies, seeds and veins removed, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ small red onion, cut into tiny dice
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Arepas:
1 cup half and half, divided
¾ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup canned hominy, well drained
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup shredded asadero cheese
1 cup maseca (tamale dough flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
All-purpose flour, as needed
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying

Olive Oil-Fried Eggs:
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying
12 eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Begin by making the salsa.

Combine all ingredients except salt in a medium-sized bowl and stir to blend well.  If you are going to use the salsa now, add salt to taste. If you wish to refrigerate it for use later, don’t add the salt until ready to serve. (The salt will cause the tomatoes to “weep” and make the salsa watery.)

Prepare the arepas. 

Combine ½ cup of the half and half, corn kernels, hominy, and sugar in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.  Process until mostly smooth, leaving a little bit of texture. 

Turn out into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the asadero cheese, maseca, kosher salt, and remaining ½-cup of half and half. Stir just to blend well, but don’t get heavy-handed, or the Arepas will be heavy.

If the dough is too sticky to form cakes, add some all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring in thoroughly but gently, until the consistency is right.  Set the dough aside to rest, covered with a clean towel, for about 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll into balls.  Cover work surface with a sheet of parchment paper and place the rounds about 3 inches apart on the parchment. Use a large cutting board to cover the dough balls, pressing down on it to form cakes about ½-inch thick.

Heat a thin glaze of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet. When the oil is hot, add some of the arepas, but don’t crowd the pan. They should not be touching. Fry them for 2-3 minutes, depending on the amount of browning desired, keeping in mind that they should be crispy on the outside.

Turn and fry until browned on the other side. Drain on absorbent paper towels placed on a wire rack and repeat with remaining cakes, adding additional olive oil to the pans as needed.  Keep warm while frying the eggs.

Wipe out the skillet and heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle, slide in two eggs. Season them immediately with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cook over medium-high heat, spooning some of the oil over the eggs, until the edges of the eggs begin to get bubbly and lacy and golden brown. The yolks should be nice and runny and the bottoms slightly browned.

Set aside to keep hot and repeat with remaining eggs, adding additional olive oil as needed. Note: If you can multi-task, you can have two (or more skillets going at once to cook the eggs quickly.)

To serve, place two of the arepas on each plate, slightly overlapping. On the opposite side of the plate place two of the fried eggs. Spoon a portion of the salsa in the middle of the plate and serve at once.


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