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South American arepas with barbacoa-type filling of shredded beef, with vinegary coleslaw and white wine sangria.Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Arepas are South American cornmeal buns with loads more flavour, texture and personality than ordinary flour rolls. They are made from a specific type of cooked cornmeal called "masarepa," which is available at Latin grocery stores. If you can't find it, use regular cornmeal and make thinner pancakes over which the meat and slaw can be piled, open faced.

Servings: 4

Ready Time: 20 minutes


1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup masarepa cornmeal

1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


In a medium saucepan, combine milk, butter, sugar and salt. Heat, stirring, until butter melts and milk is steaming but not boiling. Meanwhile, measure cornmeal into a heatproof bowl. Add cheese and mix well.

Remove milk mixture from heat and stir into cornmeal until moisture is absorbed. You will have a thick batter. Form into arepas by rolling batter into 4 balls, then flattening with your palm to about ½-inch thickness.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Fry arepas until golden brown and crisp on both sides, adding more oil as needed. Cool and split as you would hamburger buns. Pack in a plastic container for assembly al fresco.

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