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Arepas with Cheese

  • SERVINGS: Makes four 6-inch arepas
  • VEGETARIAN
  1. 3 cups white masa harina (see Note)
  2. 6 ounces finely grated feta or mozzarella, plus more for topping
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 3/4 cups warm water
  5. 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, plus more for spreading
  1. In a large bowl, mix the masa harina with 6 ounces of the feta and the salt. Slowly add the water while stirring with a wooden spoon. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and stir until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes or until it comes together in a smooth mass.
  2. Set a cast-iron griddle over moderate heat. Divide the arepa dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. On a clean work surface, flatten the balls of arepa dough and pat them into 5-inch rounds with smooth edges.
  3. Spread 1 teaspoon of softened butter on 1 side of an arepa and set it on the griddle, buttered side down. Using a flat spatula, press the arepa into a 6-inch round about 1/3 inch thick; carefully smooth the edges if necessary. Cook the arepa over moderately low heat until browned, about 6 minutes; reduce the heat to low if the arepa browns too quickly. Spread the top of the arepa with 1 teaspoon of butter, flip and cook for 6 minutes longer, or until browned. Transfer the arepa to a plate, sprinkle with cheese and serve. Repeat with the remaining arepas.
Notes Masa harina is a type of corn flour that is made from ground, precooked dehydrated yellow or white corn with lime. It is available at Latin-American markets, some supermarkets and at health food stores. It can also be mail-ordered from Kitchen Market; 888-HOT-4433.
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