Arepas with Pulled Pork and Pickled Onions

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors(yellow, orange,green, red,chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique,distinctively fruity flavor.

It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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Pickled onion:

1 medium red onion, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges, then very thinly sliced crosswise
1 to 2 fresh habanero or Scotch bonnet chiles, seeded, deveined, and very finely chopped
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste


3 pounds pork shoulder chops (3/4-inch thick)
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. whole allspice
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. achiote (annatto) seeds
6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano (preferably Mexican), crumbled
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water


3 cups whole milk
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1-1/2 cups white arepa flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella (5 oz.)
2-1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil


To make the pickled onions:

Stir together all the pickled onion ingredients in a bowl and allow to chill, covered, for at least 12 hours.

To marinate the pork:

Toast the cumin, allspice and peppercorns together in a dry heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Finely grind the toasted spices with achiote in an electric coffee/spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Mince the garlic and mash it to a paste with salt using a heavy knife, then transfer to a 2-1/2 or 3-quart shallow glass or ceramic baking dish. Stir in the spice mixture, oregano, orange juice and vinegar. Add the pork and rub the meat all over with the marinade. Marinate the pork, covered and chilled, for at least 2 hours.

To cook the pork:

Preheat oven to 325F.

Bring the pork to room temperature, then add the water to a baking dish and cover it tightly with foil. Bake the pork in the middle of the oven until very tender, about 1-3/4 to 2 hours. (Leave the oven on.)

Uncover the pork and, when it is cool enough to handle, shred the meat on a cutting board, discarding the bones and any excess fat. Transfer the meat and any of the juices that accumulated on cutting board to the baking dish.

To make the arepas:

Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan, then remove it from the heat and reserve 1/2 cup of the milk in a small bowl. Add the butter to the remaining 2-1/2 cups of hot milk and stir until melted.

Toss together the arepa flour, sugar, salt and mozzarella in a large bowl, then add the hot milk with butter and stir until well combined. Let the mixture stand until the milk is absorbed, about 1-2 minutes (the dough will be soft; it will continue to stiffen as it stands).

Form 1 level tablespoon of the dough into a ball. Flatten the ball to a 1-1/2″ to 1-3/4″ diameter disk and transfer it to a wax-paper-lined tray. Form more disks with the remaining dough in the same manner, stirring in some of reserved milk if the dough becomes too stiff and the edges of the disks crack when flattened.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over moderately low heat until hot, then cook the arepas in batches of 10 to 12, turning them over once, until they are golden in patches, about 8-12 minutes total. (Add more oil to the skillet between batches as needed.) Transfer the arepas to baking sheets as cooked.

Reheat the arepas in batches as needed, covered with foil, until heated through, about 10-15 minutes, then top with the pork and pickled onions. Serve the arepas warm.

Yields about 60 hors doeuvres.

Recipe from Latina Magazine.