For Colombia, I selected a main dish of sudado de pollo (Colombian style chicken stew) with a side of arepa (which I can best describe as a mix of cornbread and pancakes). I couldn’t resist selecting a cheese filled version of the arepa.
Sudado de Pollo (recipe)
Like so many recipes before, this one started with sautéing chopped onions (and red pepper, in this case). Tomato, garlic, salt and pepper were added after the onions were cooked.
Then the chicken (we used chicken thighs and some leftover rotisserie chicken from China), chicken stock, and more spices were added. The spices included cumin and a mix called Sazon Soya, for which I read a reasonable substitute is equal parts of ground coriander, cumin, annatto, garlic powder, and salt. This cooked for 25 minutes, and then potatoes and cilantro were added and left to cook until the potatoes were soft. It thickened some after the below picture.
Arepa Boyacense (recipe)
The arepa proved to be a little more complicated than the main dish…
The main challenge was an ingredient we could not locate: masarepa, a type of pre-cooked cornmeal. The closest substitute I came across was corn grits for polenta.
As I started “kneading” the corn grits, flour, water, milk, salt, sugar, and butter, it became clear that I had a problem. There was not a lot of kneading going on, but there was a lot of swashing corn grits around in liquid and scratching my hands going on. So I totally deviated from the recipe under the assumption that the cornmeal stuff needed to be cooked. I ended up spending the next hour or so cooking this mixture in a skillet (adding water pretty often) until it became soft enough that I could imagine eating it without cracking a tooth.
So I returned to the recipe at that point and rolled it out into small circles, sprinkled some cheese on top, and added another circle on top to encase the cheese.
These were then fried:
The arepa was served with the sudado de pollo over rice:
Good, but not spectacular. The chicken stew was definitely enjoyable, but it won’t go down in history as a meal we need to repeat. Same with the arepas… tasty, but not quite as good as I expected. The seemed a little too sweet, and although I saved them from being a complete disaster by cooking the “dough” ahead of time, I always wonder how differently some of these recipes we make would turn out if I didn’t have to make any substitutions.