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Irresistible cachapas with queso de mano.
What can be better than a good cachapa, made with fresh, tender, corn kernels? Well, those same cachapas stuffed with queso de mano!
Queso de mano? I’ll explain you, but first things first. What is a cachapa? Cachapas are a sort of corncake. They are to Venezuelans what the pancakes are to Americans. A rustic pancake, I would say.
When I was a little girl, eating cachapas was a joy reserved for our getaways to El Junquito. At least three times a year, we went with my dad to that little mountain town, on the outskirts of Caracas. As if it were a tacit ritual, we ate cachapas with queso de mano.
Later, what was really priceless was eating cachapas on my cowboy friends’ haciendas. It doesn’t matter if those farms were in Aragua, Guárico or Zulia states. When visiting, during the weekends they honored us, the Caraqueños (people from Caracas, Venezuela’s capital city), with a breakfast that inavariably consisted of cachapas grilled in huge budares that were heated with firewood. No need to say that aroma was the closest to heaven.
Cachapas are made with sweet corn and they are so popular that even Harina P.A.N., manufacturer of the arepa flour, has a cachapa flour. This flour is made in the US in the P.A.N. facility in Texas and distributed by Goya Foods.
I must confess this cachapa flour has saved my life more than once and fortunately, along with my beloved arepa flour, is available everywhere at least in my area. That said, I must also say there is nothing like freshly made cachapas with queso de mano.
This queso de mano is one of the varieties of Venezuelan fresh cheese. Luckily, it’s also easy to find in the city where I live. Super gooey, its taste and consistency is similar to that of mozzarella. But it’s a bit more salty and acid. It also comes in 4-inch disks, which makes it perfect for eating with cachapas.
How to make cachapas with queso de mano
What follows is my recipe, perfected over the years and inspired by the one published by Maricel Presilla in her book Gran Cocina Latina, The Food Of Latin America.
Cachapas with queso de mano
- 4 cups of fresh corn kernels (about 6 ears of corn)
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream (I used Cacique Crema Mexicana)
- 1/4 cup of skim milk
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of arepa flour (I used Harina P.A.N.)
- 2 disks of queso de mano
- Save 4 tablespoons of corn kernels.
- Put the rest of the ingredients, except for butter and cheese, in a blender and blend until a thick paste forms.
- Add the rest of the corn kernels and stir. Press to liquefy for a few seconds so that you can feel the kernels when eating the cachapa.
- Let stand for about 5 minutes for the mixture to thicken.
- Preheat a frying pan, budare or comal over medium heat.
- When the pan is hot, add some butter to grease it.
- Make each cachapa using 1/3 cup of the mixture at a time, and making a circle of about 4 inches.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes and flip with a spatula. Cook for 3 more minutes until the cachapas are golden brown.
- Serve hot with butter and cheese: place a cachapa, cover it the cheese, and then top with another cachapa.
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