While there’s much talk of how we should be using our time in isolation, I fully support the school of thought that if we just get through this, it’ll be enough.
So while you are under zero obligation to “be productive” or “try something new”, if you’re curious about Colombian food or share my inclination towards recipes involving any form of fried meat, you could give the below a go.
Today’s recipe is for Arepas con Chicarrón, or corn-cakes and fried pork belly. The arepas require a precooked corn flour called “masa harina”. You can’t sub this out for regular corn flour so I recommend looking in your local cash & carry or international supermarket for this; popular brands are Pan and Goya.
The pork belly recipe is a cracker; the meat pretty much takes care of itself, boiling down in water until the last few minutes when you fry it off in its own fat to get it gloriously golden and crunchy. Give it a bit of attention the night before with some salt and bicarbonate of soda to dry it out for extra crisp.
- 250 grams masa harina
- 250 ml water
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Pour out your water into a bowl big enough to allow you to mix in
- Shake in your masa harina, salt & pepper
- Combine ingredients with your hands, forming a dough
- Cover bowl with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes
- The dough is now ready to mould. Separate it into 10 equal sized balls and flatten down to about ½ inch thickness and mould into a round shape, either with hands or use a cup to cut out the shape, like a cookie cutter
- Lightly oil up a griddle or non stick pan and cook arepas until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes on each side.
For four people, served alongside arepas and other nibbles
- 500 grams pork belly, cut into cubes about 4cm x 4cm
- 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 ½ tbsp salt
- Seasonings of your choice (I used sweet paprika, cumin, garlic power)
- The night prior to cooking, place pork belly out on a plate and rub skin with the bicarb of soda and half the salt
- The next day, when ready to cook, place pork belly in a pan big enough to fit it comfortably and add enough water to cover the meat completely
- With the flame on very low, leave meat to simmer, checking on it every half an hour to turn the meat
- 2-4 hours after you have started to cook the meat, the water will have evaporated off – this is time to turn up then heat and get your meat golden brown and crunchy
- With the heat on high, carefully and lovingly fry the belly (no extra oil needed as it’s now cooking in its own fat). This should take 3-5 minutes – careful because the fat spits.
- Once nicely golden and crunchy, remove meat from pan and place on top of kitchen roll laid on a plate to absorb extra grease.
- Sprinkle spices and remaining salt on top – you can use the suggested sweet paprika, garlic powder and cumin or whatever your preferences are.
These can be served alongside a whole host of toppings, below is what I went for: some pickled onions (left in red wine vinegar and a dash of sugar to take away the acidity), avocado, grated cheese, some chopped tomatoes with coriander and lemon and coriander to garnish.
These are two very simple recipes that can serve as base for a whole Latin-American inspired meal. There’s loads of other Colombian recipes on my blog you could use as well: Colombian-style chicken wings, patacones (fried plantain slices, but this recipe does them in the oven), arroz con pollo (chicken with rice). Choices for pudding include a guava cake you could anglicise with jam instead of guava and a passionfruit and dulce de leche victoria sponge.
So if you’ve finished Tiger King and are at a loss for what to do next, why not give this a go? Let me know how you get on!