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Recipe: Perico Venezolano | Venezuelan Scrambled Eggs

24 Jul Perico | Venezuelan Scrambled Eggs

Venezuelan scrambled eggs are just like Venezuelans; anything but plain.  Scrambled eggs were too boring, so we incorporated a few things to make them extra special.  Throw some onions and tomatoes, and you’ve got very colorful and tasty scrambled eggs.  I don’t know why do we call these extra special scrambled eggs Perico, but I think it is because perico is the Spanish word for parakeet, and when you add tomatoes to scrambled eggs, they get a red tint to them, just like our parakeets.

When I was a kid, my mom used to make arepas con perico usually on the weekends.  I didn’t like perico when I was a kid, but as an adult I love it.  Especially because with just a few tweaks, like using only the egg whites and no oil, you can make a lighter breakfast.

Ingredients: Perico

Ingredients: Perico

What you need:
– 1/8 C. Oil
– 1 Tbsp. Butter
– ½ C. Onion
– ½ C. Tomato
– ½ Tsp. Salt
– 1/8 Tsp. Pepper
– 3 Eggs

Preparation:
1.  Chop the onion and tomato in small cubes.  It is recommended to take the seeds and skin from the tomato, but… who has time for that on a Saturday morning?  I like tomatoes; skin, seeds, and all.

Chop Onion and Tomato

Chop Onion and Tomato

2.  In a large enough frying pan, add the oil and the butter and heat on medium.  You can skip either the butter OR the oil if you prefer a lighter option.
3.  Add the onion and fry until it browns (about 4 minutes).

Fry Onion

Fry Onion

4.  Add the tomato, salt and pepper, and fry for another 6 to 7 minutes, or until the mixture dries up a bit.

Add Tomato

Add Tomato

5.  Beat the eggs and add them to the mix (you can use egg whites only for a lighter option as well).  Continue frying and mixing for about 3 minutes until the eggs cook thoroughly and become dry, but at the same time keeping it loose and without clumping it together.  You can also add some milk to the beaten eggs to make them fluffier.
6.  Serve hot with arepas… I happened to have some avocado nearby, and it was just the perfect addition to this breakfast for champs.

Perico | Venezuelan Scrambled Eggs

Perico | Venezuelan Scrambled Eggs

Desayuno Venezolano | Venezuelan Breakfast

Desayuno Venezolano | Venezuelan Breakfast

Note:  Perico can be served just like any other scrambled egg dish; with bacon or sausage, and toast.  It can also be served as an arepa filling (relleno de arepa), already inside an arepa. (Avocado addition is great here too… as you can probably tell by now… I love avocado)

Arepa Rellena con Perico | Perico Filled Arepa

Arepa Rellena con Perico | Perico Filled Arepa

Arepa Rellena con Perico | Perico Filled Arepa

Arepa Rellena con Perico | Perico Filled Arepa

*Serves 2

¡Buen Provecho!

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Recipe: Venezuelan Empanadas

19 Oct

Empanadas are like Venezuelan hot pockets or calzones.   We usually serve them as appetizers (small ones), or as a main dish with delicious fillings and dipping sauces.   Empanada fillings are as varied as Arepa fillings, and we use some of the same fillings that we use in Arepas as well.   The most common and easy to prepare are cheese empanadas, and they are the most popular amongst kids.   We also have exquisite ones like lobster, or Cazón (small shark), and common ones like ground beef, shredded chicken, shredded meat.   Then there are big ones like filled with Pabellón (Shredded beef, black beans and plantains), or combination ones like cheese and beef, or even ham and cheese.   One thing is for sure; you will like them no matter what is in them.   Another great thing about empanadas is that they are a great way to re-purpose your leftovers, and no one will complain about eating the same thing for lunch that they had the night before for dinner, because everyone loves empanadas.   So keep that in mind when you have leftovers, and you don’t want them to go to waste.

Ingredients for Venezuelan Empanadas

Ingredients for Venezuelan Empanadas

What You’ll Need:

– 1 Cup Harina PAN
– 1 ¼ Cup Water
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– 1/3 Teaspoon Sugar
– Vegetable Oil (enough to fry all the empanadas)
– Your Empanada Fillings (Cheese, beef, chicken, pork, etc.)
– Clear Plastic Wrap (Cling Wrap)
– Bowls

Preparation

1. Just like the Arepas: Add the Harina PAN into a mixing bowl, then add the salt and the sugar to the water and stir it.   Now little by little add the water and knead and mix the dough using your hands.   You must knead the dough until the mix is soft, firm and has a uniform consistency without any grains.

Knead the Dough

Knead the Dough

2. Once the dough is ready, make a big ball out of it, and then split into 4 equal parts.

Split Into Equal Parts

Split Into Equal Parts

3. Set up your cooking space as shown in the picture below in order to have:
a) Your Dough
b) Your Fillings (I have beef and shredded Queso Blanco cheese here)
c) A bowl with warm water with a little bit of oil in it.
d) A bowl to shape your empanadas with
e) A large enough piece of Cling Wrap

Set Up Your Cooking Space

Set Up Your Cooking Space

4. Grab one of your four sections of dough and form a ball.

Form A Ball

Form A Ball

5. Begin to flatten the ball into a disk shape using the entire length of your hands, also use the water with oil to moisten your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to them.
6. Flatten the ball until it is less than 0.25” thick.

Flatten

Flatten

Flatten More

Flatten More

Done

Done

7. Place about two to three tablespoons of your filling right below the center of the circle.

Add Filling

Add Filling

Add Any Filling

Add Any Filling

8. With both hands grab the top of the Cling Wrap and carefully fold the circle in two, so that you have a semicircle.

Fold Circle Into Semicircle

Fold Circle Into Semicircle

9. Press the Cling Wrap with your fingers over the top dough towards the bottom dough, in order to close the empanada.

Semicircle

Semicircle

Press Edged to Close Empanada

Press Edged to Close Empanada

10. Now use the extra empty bowl as shown to cut the excess dough and make the famous empanada moon-shape.

Use Empty Bowl

Use Empty Bowl

Cut Out Empanada Shape

Cut Out Empanada Shape

11. Open the Cling Wrap and remove the excess dough, which you can add to the remaining dough to make the rest of the empanadas.

Empanada Shape

Empanada Shape

Open Cling Wrap

Open Cling Wrap

Remove Excess Dough

Remove Excess Dough

Empanada Shape Done

The Perfect Empanada Shape

12. Carefully remove the empanada from the Cling Wrap, so you can make the rest of them.

Carefully Remove from Cling Wrap

Carefully Remove from Cling Wrap

Set Aside

Set Aside

13. You can begin to fry them immediately if you have someone else to help keep an eye on the ones in the pan, so you can continue making the other ones and not burn them.

Fry Empanadas

Fry Empanadas

14. Also, it is a good idea to mark them so you know which ones have which filling. In case someone doesn’t want one of the fillings. I use one dot for cheese, two dots for beef, and three dots for beef and cheese.   But you can use whatever you want.

Mark Your Empanadas

Mark Your Empanadas

15. Once you have all your empanadas ready, it’s time to fry them.

Fried Empanada and Remove Excess Oil with Paper Towels

Fried Empanada and Remove Excess Oil with Paper Towels

16. Once they are golden, take them out and lay them on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
17. Serve and enjoy.   Be careful, they are hot!

Venezuelan Empanadas

Venezuelan Empanadas

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Venezuelan Arepas

13 Jul

Arepas are very easy to prepare.   First, you will need a few basic things.

– Mixing Bowl

Basic Ingredients and Utensils

Basic Ingredients and Utensils

– Measuring Spoons

– Measuring Cup

– 1 cup Harina PAN (Discussed here).

– 1 cup lukewarm water

– ½ teaspoon salt

Next, you will prepare the dough.

Add the Harina PAN and the salt into the mixing bowl and mix together using your hands.   Then, little by little add the water and knead and mix the dough using your hands.   You must knead the dough until the mix is soft, firm and has a uniform consistency without any grains.

Add Water, Salt and Harina PAN

Add Water, Salt and Harina PAN

Another way if doing it is to first add the water and the salt into the mixing bowl and stir that together, and then proceed to add the Harina PAN little by little.

It is up to you to decide which method to use.   I usually had preferred to mix the water and the salt first, so to make the water salty and spread the saltiness evenly through the dough.   However, I found that using all the water first usually resulted in having to add more Harina PAN to the mix latter in order to get the right consistency.

Therefore I think the best way to go about it is to add the salt to the water in the measuring cup, and have the Harina PAN in the mixing bowl.   That way you add as much water as needed, but you also distribute the salt evenly and then proceed to knead.

Knead Dough

Knead Dough

Once the dough is ready you let it sit for 5 minutes.

Let it sit

Let it sit

Now you are ready to form the arepas.   You should grab a handful of the dough, and with both hands make a nice sized ball of about 2” to 2.5” in diameter.   Then you use one hand to hold the ball and the other to flatten it ever so slightly with your fingers, turning it around so you flatten it evenly.   The thickness is really up to you and up to the type of arepa you are going to prepare.   I usually flatten it to about 0.5” or 0.75” thick.   And if you are using a “Tostiarepa” you don’t event have to worry about flatting it, because it will do it for you.   Now that you have the basics, you can decide to cook your arepa in several different ways.

Make Balls

Make Balls

Flatten

Flatten

Arepas Asadas

This is probably the most common way to cook an arepa.   I believe the translation would be something like roasted or grilled Arepas.   The best way to do this is with what we call a “BUDARE”, which is basically a cast iron round griddle (think Lodge Logic).   You would first seal them at a higher temperature and then cook the inside at a medium temperature flipping them over constantly.

Arepas Asadas

Arepas Asadas

Arepas Fritas

These are probably the most delicious ones, because they are Fried arepas, and lets face it, anything fried tastes 10 times better.   You would simply heat up about 2 cups of oil at medium heat in a pan, or better yet, in a fryer or Dutch oven.   After the oil is hot enough you would fry the arepas for about 10 minutes or until they are golden on both sides.

If you wish to fry your arepas, I recommend that you flatten them further, to about 0.25” thick, and also its tradition to open a hole with your finger in the middle of the fried arepas (don’t ask me why).

Usually, in Venezuelan restaurants, instead of serving bread and butter while you wait for your food to arrive, we serve “arepitas con nata”.   These are small little about 1.5” in diameter (cooked) fried arepas served directly from the fryer with either butter or delicious “nata”, which is hard to explain, because I really never though of it.   It is sort of like a sour cream, but its cheesier and buttery, like cream cheesy but with a more liquid consistency.

Arepas Horneadas

These are baked arepas.   They usually have to be “sealed” using the Arepas Asadas technique on a cast iron round griddle for about 5 minutes on each side on high heat.   Then, they are baked in the oven at about 180º C until they start to puff a bit and the crust starts to come up a bit from the inside dough, which is usually about 20 to 30 minutes.

TostiArepa

The arepa toaster will basically toast the arepas in about 7 minutes.   All you have to do is place a large enough ball of dough on each of the compartments in the toaster and press the cover down.   You should open it back up and check that you had enough dough, or that you didn’t have too much dough.   If you had too much just remove the excess pressed out with your fingers.   If you had too little add more dough and reshape the ball.   You can also add a bit of butter to each compartment before you put the dough in.   I think the toaster is non-stick, but then the crust will taste like butter.

Tostiarepa: Make Balls

Tostiarepa: Make Balls

Flattened Arepa in the Tostiarepa

Flattened Arepa in the Tostiarepa

Now you are ready to enjoy your arepa with any filling you want.   I will cover fillings in the next post, but for now you can enjoy them with butter, your favorite type of cheese and any kind of sandwich meat.

Tips

Arepas become hardened in only a few hours, so you should cook them when you want to eat them.   Also, if they are already hardened, you can damp a paper towel or two in water, and cover the arepa and then stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so.   You can however prepare the dough and refrigerate it beforehand and then proceed to cook them when you are ready to eat them.   You can also refrigerate leftover dough for about 5 days, just make sure you cover it with a damp cloth and spray with water or even a little bit of oil.   You can also prepare baked arepas by sealing them using the griddle first, then freezing them, and simply baking them for 20 to 30 minutes when you are ready to eat them.

Some people add different things to their dough before they cook the arepa to add flavor to the dough.   I have heard and seen a lot of different additions including milk, oil, butter, cheese, eggs, and even honey.   They all have a different taste, but I have to say I have NEVER tried an Arepa I didn’t like and I have NEVER met anyone who didn’t like Arepas 🙂

Check out Arepas on Chef John’s Blog and Also on Bobby Flay Throwdown

¡Buen Provecho!

NEW!!! – Download the One-Page Recipe Printout [Recipe: Venezuelan Arepas PDF Printout

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