As any home cook knows, it’s easy to get into a rut. Even though as a professional chef, my larder of recipes is expansive, I still fall into the same trap. As does my farmer-friend Brett, who also worked as a chef for 15 years before becoming a farmer. So when I visit him on the farm, he always prefers that I cook. And I love cooking on the farm because even the same ingredients behave so differently. The eggs have more texture and cook more slowly, the tomatoes are sweeter, and the beef has more flavor.
His most oft-requested dish is my arepas, a Latin American corn-cake. Usually, the cakes are made from ground corn-meal (masarepa) mixed with water and salt, and formed into patties. The patties are grilled and topped with salsa and cheese.
I learned how to make these in the more traditional recipe of cooking the dried hominy corn and then grinding it. The paste that emerges from the grinder is quite dry, so I mix it with fresh corn, cheese and butter. This gives the dough more sweetness and creaminess.
1 – 1 lb. bag hominy
4 ears corn
1 tbs. chopped garlic
4 scallions, chopped
2 tbs. chopped cilantro *or more
1 – 2 cups grated jack cheese
3 tbs. butter
salt and pepper
1. Cook hominy according to package directions.
2. Heat a large skillet. Melt butter. Add the corn, then the garlic. Cook over medium heat until the corn begins to roast and brown.
3. Drain hominy. Grind with a medium hole. Grind corn and garlic mixture as well.
4. Mix in by hand the jack cheese, scallion and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Form patties with dough. Pan fry in plain oil until crispy on both sides.
3 tomatoes, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp. chili paste (or more to taste)
½ lime, juiced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tbs. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Mix Salsa Ingredients together.