This mash-up combines two famous classics: an all-American bacon, egg and cheese breakfast and arepas, a type of “bread” made of white maize (corn) flour popular in Colombia and Venezuela.
Where do I begin? This American breakfast arepas recipe is now one of my favorite brunch creations!
An arepa's preparation and style varies depending on the region. The recipe below is from Venezuela's Capital, Caracas, which means they are not fried. They’re yummy, gluten-free and you can fill them with anything – cheese, ham, shredded chicken, you name it (please note the filling in this recipe is definitely not gluten-free).
The bacon gives these arepas an extra crunch that will not disappoint. The side of hash browns is an added plus, and maybe I’ll double-dare you to add them to the filling of the arepa, instead of enjoying them on the side.
Add the warm water to a medium bowl. Dissolve the salt in the water. Add the cornmeal little by little to the water, and slowly mix with your hands. Knead with your hands until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and forms a very soft ball. Continue kneading for another 10 minutes, if you can spare the time. Sprinkle additional cornmeal into the mix if the dough doesn't firm up at all.
Once the dough forms a nice, moist ball, break off a small piece and work it in your hands, rolling it into a smaller ball (about 1-2 inches) and then gently flattening it so it is about 3 inches across and ¼-inch thick. Repeat until you have used up all the dough. Reserve each arepa on a plate. Note: If the dough cracks on the edges when you flatten it, it is too dry. Wet your hands and try again.
Smear the butter on the skillet and preheat on medium-high heat. Cook the flattened arepas for 3 minutes on each side until they’re slightly charred. Adjust the heat to medium, cook for another 10 minutes, alternating sides. They should be golden brown, and toasted on both sides. It's okay if they have some dark brown spots.
Reserve in a basket lined with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.
American Breakfast Filling
Place a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until the strips begins to curl, alternating sides. Reserve the bacon strips over a plate lined with paper towels to remove the excess grease. Keep the fat on the skillet – you’ll need it for the fried eggs.
Lower the skillet to medium heat. Crack one egg at a time. Once the egg slips into the skillet, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Add salt and pepper to taste on the skillet. Cook slowly until the whites are white and the yolks begin to thicken. This will be approximately 3 minutes.
Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, while you grate the potatoes.
While the pan is heating, grate the potatoes on the largest hole of a box grater. Squeeze the grated potatoes in a tea towel or paper towel to remove excess moisture. Do not grate them before you are ready to fry the hash browns because the potatoes will oxidize.
Add the butter to the pan hot, and scatter the shredded potatoes evenly on the skillet. Don't be concerned with making the hash brown shape at first – cook the pieces of potato until golden on one side. Once they are, flip and loosely begin to assemble the hash brown shape on the skillet by patting down with your spatula. Continue cooking on medium heat for another 5 minutes on each side.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Open each arepa (practice makes perfect), and fill each of them with 1 to 2 bacon slices, 1 fried egg and 1 slice of American cheese. Close.
Serve them with the side of hash browns and enjoy!
Many traditional recipes recommend you cook arepas on both the oven and skillet. I do not. A skillet is more than enough as long as you follow my steps; however, if you want to keep your arepas extra warm while you prepare the rest of the recipe, you may preheat the oven to 350 °F degrees and place them on a baking sheet while you work on the rest.