CSA Week 7 - Arepas Pt. 2

Did my last arepas post entice you?  If not, this one definitely will.  Along with my weekly CSA, my swim coach Sue gave me a few tomatillos and poblano peppers one morning.  My fridge was overflowing with produce!  So looking through what I had- tomatillos, peppers, corn, tomatoes... I definitely saw a feast in my future, with arepas as the building blocks!  Fresh produce and a little spice piled on top of shredded chicken and cheese, these are absolutely the taste of summer!
This was a wonderful CSA box, and I didn't need to do much with each item.  Green beans and tomatoes were a wonderful dinner for me, but the boy needed something a little more filling.  This dinner looks like a lot of work and a lot of ingredients, but I promise you it comes together quickly, and there are definitely shortcuts you can take!  Buy your own salsa verde instead of making it, or you don't need all of the same ingredients for the toppings if you're not into them.  Make this your own and follow your taste buds!
Layered on top of the arepas are shredded chicken, shredded cheese, a quick pico de gallo made with tomatoes and peppers, fresh corn, and salsa verde.  I did break out a few of my Peruvian chicken green sauce packets that I save at every visit, and the heat was glorious with all the other fresh veggie layers.  This is a wonderful meal that everyone can enjoy and customize to their liking.  Serve it family style and let everyone get a little messy :-)
Arepas with shredded chicken and veggies
serves 6-8

Arepas:
1 cup masarepa cornmeal
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
Oil for pan

Combine the cornmeal, water, oil, and salt, mixing thoroughly.  Let mixture stand for five minutes.

Knead for about 3 minutes moistening your hands with water as you do.

Divide the dough into 4 small balls.  Place each ball between 2 plastic bags (plastic wrap will work, but it's finicky) and use a rolling pin to flatten to about 1/4" thick.

Add another tablespoon of oil to a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Place the arepas in the pan, and cook about 3 minutes on each side, until a crust forms or they are turning golden brown.

Shredded Chicken:
3-4 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking pan with foil.  Place the chicken breasts on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of each chicken breast, until cooked through (there is no pink in the middle, the juices are running clear, and the internal temperature has hit 165 degrees).  Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board or plate and let cool for 10 minutes to be easier to handle (leave the extra juices in the pan).  Shred using two forks, place in a bowl, and add 1/8-1/4 cup of the juices to have extra juicy shredded chicken!

Tomato and Poblano Pico de Gallo:
1 poblano pepper, inner ribs and seeds removed, medium diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, depending on the heat of your poblanos)
Salt and pepper

Place the pepper pieces and tomato halves in a medium bowl.  Depending on the heat level of the poblanos, add a bit of cayenne pepper, and a little salt and pepper.  Mix up and let marinade together.

Cooked Salsa Verde (adapted from Pati Jinich):

3-4 green tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
1 serrano chile, or more to taste (I used 1 poblano pepper, inner ribs and seeds removed, and added 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to compensate)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (I didn't use since I don't love cilantro, but go for it!)
1/4 cup white onion, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon oil


Place the tomatillos, garlic cloves, and the chile in a pot and cover with water.  Heat over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until tomatillos change their color from a bright to a pale green, are cooked through, and are soft but not coming apart. 

Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatillos, garlic, chile (if using serrano, you can add half of it at first), and 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Incorporate the cilantro leaves if using, onion, and salt, and process again.  Taste for salt and add more if needed.  Also taste for heat, you may add the red pepper flakes or the other half of the chile until you reach your desired heat level. 

Dump out the rest of the cooking liquid from the pot, and dry thoroughly.  Add the oil to the pot and heat over medium heat.  Once it is hot (shimmering but not smoking), pour in the sauce and bring it to a boil, stirring to prevent salsa explosions! Simmer over medium heat for 6 to 7 minutes, until it thickens a bit and deepens its flavor and color. Turn off the heat. 

Once it cools down, you may store it in a closed container in the refrigerator for weeks, though, the heat level of the sauce will diminish as the days go by. 

Assembly: 
Did you make it this far?!  Good for you!  

Additional items:
Fresh or canned corn
Shredded Cheese
Peruvian green sauce (recipe here if you don't stock up like I do!), or hot sauce as desired

Grab a plate and just start layering everything.  Arepas, shredded chicken, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, corn, green salsa, and green sauce/hot sauce!  Eat flat like a tostada, or fold like a taco, the options are all yours!

Enjoy!

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