Make Ahead

The only Arepas you will ever make (Brisket edition)

February 16, 2016
0 Ratings
Photo by Kristina Maria Ortiz-Villajos
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

When made right, Arepas are the ultimate comfort food. This recipe plays on many flavor profiles: creamy, tart, sweet, savory-umami, spicy, and multiple textures: crunchy, doughy, juicy, melty, stringy, silky. I invented this recipe after trying arepas around the globe as well as locally in Atlanta and being all around underwhelmed! My rendition of arepas immediately became my husband's favorite meal and will live on as a family favorite. It may seem a bit involved as there are a lot of components but they are all simple and you have hours of cooking the brisket in which to get all other components together. You can make all components except the actual arepas at least a day ahead which makes it perfect to whip up for guests and make it look effortless. You will NOT regret making this!
PS: if you are going to brave ahead and make this despite the seemingly daunting long list of ingredients and instructions make sure you get your "mojo" sauce ahead of time as it definitely "makes" the meal. Find it at
Kristina Maria Ortiz-Villajos

What You'll Need
  • Brisket
  • 2.5 pounds Brisket
  • 2 Yellow Onions
  • 2-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 2 cups Beef Stock
  • 1 teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns
  • Onions, Guasacaca, Mojo, Cheese
  • 2 Large Red Onions
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 Ripe Avocados
  • 1 Medium Onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 Green Peppers (seeded, deveigned, roughly chopped)
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch Fresh Italian Parsley
  • 1/2 bunch Cilantro
  • 1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt (or less to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1 cup Olive Oil (I often find I can use less)
  • 8 ounces Cotija Cheese (slice ideally, but crumbled is fine)
  • 1 Jar MojoVillajos (seriously buy this...arepas not complete without it! Find it at
  • 1 Bag 24 oz precooked cornmeal (“Masarepa” by Goya as found at Buford Highway Farmers Market)
  1. Brisket
  2. Begin by heating the 2 tbsps olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Pat the brisket dry and season with salt pepper and smoked paprika. Once the oil is hot, sear the brisket on all sides and remove from the dutch oven when brown all over.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add yellow onions and an additional olive oil if necessary to prevent sticking. Cook the onions until glassy. Deglaze the dutch oven by adding the beef stock. Return the brisket to the dutch oven and add whole black peppercorns. Cover the pot, increase heat and bring liquid to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 2.5-4 hours or until the brisket pulls apart very easily. Be mindful that you are left with some liquid in the pan. I check for doneness after about 2.5 hours and then every half hour to see if I can pull it apart yet. (You can add more broth if ever you see you are risking full evaporation.
  4. Turn the heat off and shred brisket with two forks so it absorbs the rest of the liquid and the jam-y onions.
  1. Onions, Guasacaca, Mojo, Cheese
  2. Caramelized red onions: While brisket is cooking, you can caramelize your red onions. Thinly slice onions and add to a medium saucepan with a quarter cup of red wine vinegar and set over medium heat.
  3. Close the lid and let steam until onions are steamed in vinegar and glassy. Now, leave lid off, reduce the heat to medium low and cook slowly, caramelizing the onions until they are soft and jammy. I add a salt and sugar towards the end of the caramelization process and taste for sweetness. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Guasacaca: Put peppers, avocado, salt, pepper, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, onion, garlic into a food processor and process until mostly smooth. Add the olive oil in a stream with the processor running and process until creamy. Let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. To assemble: Make Arepa dough and cook according to package instructions. I usually calculate 2-3 per person depending on how large you make the patties. (What the bag does not tell you is how to test for “done-ness”. I like to tap on my arepas with a knife right after flipping them over the first time. Once you know what this sounds like, tap on them again when they are closer to the end of their cook time (8-10 min) and you should here a deeper, hollower sounding tap that indicates they are ready to remove from the pan.) Slice them open while warm and fill with a slice of cheese so it begins to melt. Continue with the rest of the arepas. I then assemble the arepas with a spoon full of the brisket meat, top with a dollop of guasacaca, mojo and the caramelized red onions. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

1 Review

Stefanie M. March 20, 2016
My husband and I LOVE this recipe! A sure way to impress guests.