Braised food

Adam Romo: Braised beef arepas are a breakfast treat (recipe)

Adam Romo’s Braised Beef Arepas

I love this dish and have brought it to the breakfast scene time and time again for its versatility and ease of production.
It can be filled with cheese or made into a sandwich-style dish. In this app, we’re going to top it off with an array of things to really bring layers of flavor to the table (so to speak). Besides the arepas themselves, there will be two other main components. Braised beef, that is to say, cooking slowly in a liquid; and the herb sauce, which is rooted in the ever-popular chimichurri.
For Arepas:
2 cups lukewarm water
2 cups maseca (instant corn masa flour)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons softened butter (optional)
Dissolve the salt in lukewarm water.
In a bowl, add the cornmeal and slowly add the water, mixing well. Hands work best here. Keep adding water until the dough is smooth but firm and doesn’t stick to your hands very easily. Forming the dough, you don’t want any cracks. If this happens like a little more water one teaspoon at a time. At this point I like to add softened butter for extra richness, but it’s not necessary. Shape the dough into patties the size of the palm of your hand. I usually set aside on parchment. In an oiled skillet, brown the arepas over medium-high heat on each side until crispy. Don’t be afraid to get a good dark color on them!
For the beef:
3-4 pounds chuck roast
1 onion
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots
1 red pepper
6 garlic cloves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 bay leaves
3 cups red wine (Burgundy cooking wine works well here)
Beef broth
Vegetable oil
I like to use a dutch oven for this because you can sear the beef, cook vegetables, and braise it all in the same pot.
If you don’t have one, you can easily start cooking everything in a skillet or two and move to a casserole dish for the oven portion. Start by chopping your vegetables.
As for the garlic, I like to just crush them but leave them fairly whole.
Start heating a few tablespoons of oil. Season the meat generously and sear it on all sides for about 5 minutes, you want the meat to be browned and crispy. Put aside.
Add the chopped carrots and cook for about ten minutes until slightly tender. Now add the other vegetables (not the garlic yet), season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions, celery and bells have started to soften.
Add your garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Then add the wine, scraping up any savory bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the meat to the pot and add the herbs and beef broth (or water) and cover. Bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours or until tender. Be sure to remove and discard herb stalks and gristle.
For the sauce:
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
3 tablespoons of oregano leaves
3 tablespoons mint leaves
Half a shallot
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons agave or honey
3/4 cup olive oil
Juice of a lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the herbs, shallot, garlic, lime juice and vinegar in a food processor or blender and pulse until almost chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add the oil with the machine on until well blended.
Top the arepa with beef, queso fresco, diced tomatoes, chopped green onions and grated fresh radishes. When dining out, I really like to put eggs in things, so this is usually topped with a poached or fried egg; but that’s entirely up to you.
Drizzle with sauce and enjoy!
Adam Romo is the head chef at The Cracker Box.