Mar 7, 2018

Braised Oxtail Arepas with Avocado & Black Beans

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
These Venezuelan-style arepas are served stuffed with oxtails that have been braised with red wine and chili powder and filled with avocado, and black beans.

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These Venezuelan-style arepas are served stuffed with oxtails that have been braised with red wine and chili powder and filled with avocado, black beans and plantains.

Aaron had been begging me to make arepas for a long time. For some reason I just haven’t followed through and now it has become a running joke that I still haven’t made them. Every once and awhile he will text me a link to a different arepas recipe or tag me on Instagram. I should clarify that by “a long time”, I mean like over six years… so yeah it’s been a long time coming.

Braised Oxtail Arepas with Avocado & Black Beans

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What are Venezuelan Arepas?

The major difference between Venezuelan and Colombian arepas is that Colombian arepas are often served with the toppings piled on top while the Venezuelan-style arepas are served stuffed for a flavorful, filling snack. Arepas venezolanas are like a stuffed cornbread/ English muffin hybrid.

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Key Ingredients in Arepas

  • Arepa flour (masarepa) – The arepa flour, masarepa, is a precooked cornmeal that is then finely ground and is different from masa harina, or regular cornmeal. I found it at a local Latin market but this popular brand, P.A.N., can be ordered on Amazon here. Masa harina, the corn meal used for making tortillas is treated with lime before being ground so the two are not interchangeable when making arepas. For a shortcut you can also purchase pre-made arepas from places like arepas NYC!
  • Oxtails – If you are unfamiliar with oxtails, it is pretty much explained in the name; they come from the tail of a cow. Historically it would be from an ox but now it’s an umbrella term for the tail from either gender cow. It is extremely flavorful and since it is very fatty it’s a great cut for braising. Look for bigger pieces of oxtail since there will be more meat.
  • Avocado – When shopping for avocados, look for ones that are firm but “give” slightly when gently squeezed in your hand. You can also remove the top stem, though I prefer to call it a nub, at the top of the avocado – if you remove it and it is green, it’s most likely ready to eat. If it’s brown then it’s probably overripe.
  • Black beans – Using dried beans takes some extra work since they need to be soaked prior to cooking but they are delicious. I typically use canned black beans in my recipes for a shortcut. Drain the beans of the liquid from the can and rinse in water prior to using.
  • Cotija cheese – This Mexican crumbly cow’s milk cheese has a mild, salty flavor. If you cannot locate cotija cheese I would recommend substituting Parmesan cheese.
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How to Make The Arepas

For the Oxtails

  1. Sear the oxtails. Pat the oxtails dry with paper towels then season the oxtails on all sides with salt and pepper. Toss with flour to coat evenly. Heat a 7.25-quart Dutch oven over medium heat then add the olive oil and heat through. Working in batches, sear until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes.
  2. Sauté aromatics. Remove to a bowl and repeat with the remaining oxtails. Once all the oxtails have been seared set aside, leaving as much of the oil in the pan. Add the carrots, shallots and green onions and sauté until soft and tender.
  3. Braise the oxtails. Add the oxtails back to the pot then stir in the garlic, tomato paste and chili powder. Add the red wine and beef stock. Bring to a simmer then cover. Place in the oven at 325ºF and braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours.
  4. Shred the meat. Remove the oxtails from the pot and let cool. Once they are cool, shred the meat and setting it aside, discarding the bones or reserving for stock. Return the braising liquid to the pot and simmer until the sauce is reduced. Add the shredded meat back to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro and set aside.

For the arepas

  1. Mix the arepa dough. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the arepa flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the arepa flour and warm water. Stir together with a wooden spoon, stirring until there are no lumps. Let the mixture rest. The dough should hold together easily.
  2. Knead the dough. Knead the dough in the bowl then divided into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece on a clean work surface into a ball, then flatten into a circle ½” thick.
  3. Cook the arepas. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add oil and heat through. Add 4 of the arepas and cover, cooking until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Uncover, flip and continue to cook, uncovered, until golden brown, an additional 6 minutes.
  4. Cut the arepas. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining arepa dough. Use a sharp knife to split the arepas.
  5. Assemble and serve. Stuff each of the arepas with a scoop of the braised oxtail mixture, black beans and a few slices of avocado. Sprinkle with some of the cheese and serve immediately with lime wedges.

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Braised Oxtail Arepas with Avocado & Black Beans

Print Pin
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Serves 8 arepas

Ingredients:

For the braised oxtails:

  • 3 pounds oxtails, cut into thick steaks by the butcher if needed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium shallots, chopped
  • 4 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

For the arepas:

  • 2 cups aprepa flour, precooked cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For assembly:

  • 1 large Haas avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained and heated
  • ¼ cup crumbled cotjia cheese
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions:

For the braised oxtails:

  • Preheat the oven to 325ºF (170ºC).
  • Pat the oxtails dry with paper towels then season the oxtails on all sides with salt and pepper. Toss with flour to coat evenly. Heat a 7.25-quart Dutch oven over medium heat then add the olive oil and heat through. Working in batches, sear until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes.
  • Remove to a bowl and repeat with the remaining oxtails. Once all the oxtails have been seared set aside, leaving as much of the oil in the pan. Add the carrots, shallots and green onions and sauté until soft and tender. Add the oxtails back to the pot then stir in the garlic, tomato paste and chili powder. Add the red wine and beef stock. Bring to a simmer then cover. Place in the oven and braise until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours.
  • Remove the oxtails from the pot and let cool. Once they are cool, shred the meat and setting it aside, discarding the bones or reserving for stock. Return the braising liquid to the pot and simmer until the sauce is reduced. Add the shredded meat back to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro and set aside.

For the arepas:

  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the arepa flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the arepa flour and add 2 ½ cups warm water. Stir together with a wooden spoon, stirring until there are no lumps. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. The dough should hold together easily.
  • Knead the dough in the bowl then divided into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece on a clean work surface into a ball, then flatten into a circle ½” thick.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat through. Add 4 of the arepas and cover, cooking until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Uncover, flip and continue to cook, uncovered, until golden brown, an additional 6 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining arepa dough. Use a sharp knife to split the arepas.

For assembly:

  • Stuff each of the arepas with a scoop of the braised oxtail mixture, black beans and a few slices of avocado. Sprinkle with some of the cheese and serve immediately with lime wedges.

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